Gloria Fowler helps churches hit restart.
While living in an ethnically diverse neighborhood for 17 years, Gloria realized that the cultural makeup of the neighborhoods was not reflected in the congregations. That triggered her desire to plant, transition and grow multi-ethnic churches. As the Director of Congregational Transformation and New Church Development in the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC), Gloria transforms congregations to reach people for Jesus Christ in their communities.
“Churches need to reflect their community and become ethnically diverse,” Gloria said.
After graduating from Asbury Seminary with a D.Min. degree in 2015, Gloria requested an inner-city church to help that congregation become multi-ethnic. Instead, she was appointed to the office to multiply her knowledge across the entire conference.
“I could have done it in just one church by myself, but now I get to multiply my knowledge with so many churches,” Gloria said.
Gloria provides resources, workshops, consultations, and coaching to help churches not just survive, but thrive. Her goal is to educate and inspire pastors and laity to reach their communities for Jesus Christ and to replicate their models and methods in new churches.
This process includes an evaluation of the church’s ministry as a whole, including discipleship, leadership, statistics, finances, and a study of the history and demographics of the church’s mission field. Gloria finds that many times the laity are not educated in ways to reach their community.
“The way we do ministry in each context has to be different,” she said. “Whether urban or rural, people still need to be reached where they are.”
Gloria has been in her role in Louisiana for only four months, but she did similar work for five years in the North Texas Conference as an associate director.
Many of her churches have stories like that of one small congregation in North Texas. First United Methodist Church of Alvord, Texas, wondered if they were going to survive. The church went through the congregational transformation process and discovered needs within their community and ways that they could meet them. One of those ways was an afternoon program for children.
Kids for Christ began in September 2016 on Wednesday nights with 27 kids. Only two children were children of church members. Throughout the school year, the children presented four programs.
“The first program was on a Wednesday evening followed by a meal, and we had 120 persons in attendance, more than half were new persons who had never been in our church before September,” Rev. Veronica Greanead, Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Alvord, North Texas Conference, said.
In the fall of 2017, Rev. Greanead baptized the first family who started attending church as a result of Kids for Christ.
“Our congregation continues to see the potential that this ministry is offering the children and the growth that it can bring to our church, and many offer their time to volunteer for this ministry,” Rev. Grenead said. “We also are blessed to have a conference that provided us with a process and persons to guide us in bearing fruit for God’s kingdom.”
Now in Louisiana, Gloria continues her work with large churches, small churches, urban and rural churches. She also leads a team working to help the African American churches become more vibrant and reach others in their context.
“As a Korean American, I have learned to navigate different cultures, but now I am in a place and position to help people plant and grow churches in different settings, whether Korean, Hispanic, African American, or Caucasian,” she said.
Gloria shares practical advice to those just beginning their ministries from her own experience.
What would you tell someone just beginning their ministry?
“Be faithful and don’t lose sight of the first love and the first passion.
“I feel that many pastors are passionate about Jesus Christ when they first get in ministry, but once they get in the system and church, they forget that it’s about reaching people for Jesus and making disciples. They get stuck in just running the church. Don’t forget why you became a pastor or minister.”
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