Reverend Sharon Bowers: A Story of Service Now at E&H

Asha Thomas, News Writer

No butterfly has ever lived longer than 365 days. Butterflies hold different symbolic meanings to many individuals. Some people believe they represent loved ones who have passed on, others see them as a sign of hope and life. 

The Rev. Sharon Bowers was taking a walk one day when a butterfly came to her and suddenly disappeared; in that instant, she had a “butterfly moment.” Now, she’s authoring a book called “The Butterfly Moment.” In it, she encourages people to find their butterfly moments, where in just 365 days they can impact themselves and impact our world.

“How do you impact your own life, how do you do the same for others, and what legacy will you leave?” Bowers asked. 

Bowers has played many different roles throughout her life, and her personal mission statement is, ‘I was born to do the difficult.” She is now the interim associate chaplain and director of the Inclusion and Dialogue Center at Emory & Henry. 

Before coming to E&H, she was the chaplain/executive director at the University of Tennessee. There, she worked with students on campus to help them process who they were and answer some of the world’s deepest questions. 

This experience, along with founding Character Based Leadership Institute, Inc., which according to Bowers’ biography on the E&H website is a group dedicated to innovative leadership through ministry, helped Bowers to be a motivational speaker and part of a group for conversations concerning race in Knoxville,Tennessee. This group decided they didn’t want to be complicit in issues of social justice. Bowers hopes to start groups like this at E&H so that people are open to talking about difficult topics. 

In this effort, Bowers is part of E&H’s Anti-Racism Thursdays series, and is teaching an anti-racism lecture event every last Sunday of the month. With an emphasis on education, Bowers hopes to offer members of the E&H community “[insight into] somebody else’s narrative.”

Rev. Sharon Bowers poses outside the Inclusion & Dialogue Center at E&H. Photo courtesy of the E&H website.

Bowers’ involvement with the Inclusion and Dialogue Center allows her to help faculty, staff and students dismantle systems of oppression by offering insight to see that attitudes and perspectives can be changed. “Unless we talk and share,” Bowers said, “we will remain constantly divided.”

John Holloway, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, enjoys working with Bowers. “During her short tenure, she has proven to be the missing puzzle piece,” Holloway explained.  “[Bowers helps] to make meaningful improvements in the lives of all of our students.”

As Interim Associate Chaplain, on the other hand, Bowers strives to get to know students and help them stay on a path of spiritual disciplines. She especially tries to connect with freshmen students to help them create their spiritual path as they leave home and transition into college life, where they have the opportunity to build a more deliberative ideology. Bowers hopes to “speak to [a student] about [their life] and help them have a transformative experience.” 

“If I can do that,” Bowers said, “I’ve done a good job.” 

Bowers hopes to leave a positive impact on the E&H community through interacting with faculty, staff, and students to “try to form a more perfect union and find a community where all is well, because we’ve worked through all that was not.”  

Most importantly, Bowers hopes to “change ideas,” because if “[E&H] can change people’s minds … that means we can change the world.”