Commitment to lifelong spiritual growth and continued discernment of my call individually and in community.
- Commitment to life-long spiritual growth and practice, individually and in community.
- Openness to continuing discernment of one’s call in community.
To fully understand my call in the community and my spiritual growth, it would first be helpful to know more about my professional background. While I earned my license as a master barber back in August of 1988, the journey into the beauty industry began two years earlier. I began Bradenton Beauty Academy in April of 1986 in the field of cosmetology. While at Bradenton Beauty Academy, I earned many top awards from hair styling competitions to earning advance certificates from national haircare lines. I was well on my way to being a leading hairstylist after graduation. With well over the state required 1,200 clock hours, and roughly 6 months in cosmetology school, I felt properly prepared to enter the beauty industry in the art of female hairstyling. I was, however, not prepared for the full range of individuals in need of my services. I was roughly two weeks away from graduation and only a month away from sitting for the Florida Cosmetology Board exams, when a male client came in asking me to give him a flattop. Up until this moment, I felt rock solid in my knowledge of all things cosmetology, but I was not prepared for barbering.
This event caused me to take a step back, and withdraw my application to sit for boards. I started my quest to find a barber school to properly train me. After a month of research, I made contact and set an appointment to meet with the director of education at Roffler Hair Design Academy in Tampa Florida. After our meeting, I was asked to come back the next day prepared to take a mock board so that they could assess my skills and knowledge. Once I had completed the exams, the director informed me that my results were as she believed they would be. I passed everything cosmetology related but failed everything barber related. She offered me the chance to attend Roffler for an additional 500 hours of schooling in all things barbering to which I instantly agreed. I moved from Bradenton, Florida to Tampa, Florida and began my training.
Over the years, my life in the beauty industry has blossomed. My achievements in this career are numerous. Yet they would not be if it was not for hard work and determination to be one of the best in the field. My approach to my life-long spiritual growth and practice to both my community and myself has been approached with the same devotion. I can see now that my education and journey thus far have been God’s plan. While my schooling in the field of beauty may not seem to be aligned with pastoral ministry, I feel as if this education can serve a bigger purpose.
I believe I can help those in financial difficulty by training them in cosmetology and barbering so that they can earn a living. I hope to expand this ministry by partnering with several friends who are just as eager to help train individuals in their respective fields of expertise. My hope is to integrate this ministry into the life of the local congregation. While I understand my call as one of service to a local congregation as a pastor, I feel this ministry may be one that I can bring into the local congregation, whether I serve as senior or associate pastor, or chaplain.
The idea for this ministry began to form in my heart while attending Kirkwood United Church of Christ in a few different ways. While I was one of the Ministry Interns at KUCC during the second year of my Contextual Education experience, I watched as Susannah Davis, my pastor and mentor, helped a young mother of two in our community. She saw the need of this young mother to support her two children and herself. Susannah working closely with one of the local restaurants/pubs in Kirkwood and helped this young mother obtain a job working and training with the chef. In this position the young mother gained the skills she needed to become the chef of this local restaurant/pub.
Another experience that lead me to the idea for this ministry occurred while working as an ACPE Chaplain Intern at Grady Memorial Hospital between my second and third year at Emory’s Candler School of Theology. During my work as a Chaplain Intern, I began to witness the growing need of the individuals I was ministering to. During my encounters with them, I began to hear their life stories of living from job to job or paycheck to paycheck. For many there were no advancement opportunities due to their levels of education. This is where my dream ministry began to form. I was troubled as I began to seek ways in which I could help meet their needs. I began to realize that I had a license that allowed me to train others (just as the young mother trained under the chef at the restaurant in Kirkwood) to become a Master Barber. I realized I could be an instrument of positive change for individuals in more ways than to just bringing them the Good News of Christ. My hope is that in bringing this mission to life it will become a ministry for the UCC. I have a working plan that I would be more than happy to sit down and discuss of how I hope this ministry can come to life.
Prayer and study of scripture are a major component of my spiritual growth and practice. In my role as an ACPE Chaplain Resident at Emory’s Saint Joseph’s Hospital, I saw that not one person’s prayer life is the exact same as another. Often it may seem as if it is, but it is not. I am no exception to this rule. Often my posture is not to kneel during prayer or fold my hands with a bowed head but rather I simply sit, stand, or even walk while simply talking to God as if I were talking to a friend. My daily prayer routine is done most often while driving my car to the gym or to my patients as a chaplain.
In my car, I often will play my favorite music, Southern Gospel, as this puts me in a spirit of prayer. This music is what I was raised with. My earliest memories of my family getting ready for church on Sunday was that of my mom or dad loading up the turn table with records of the classic Southern Gospel groups like that of the Happy Goodman’s, Gold City, The Cathedrals, Florida Boys, The Inspirations, and the King’s Men. Nothing said it was time to worship in the Bowman house like the sound of this music. Still to this day no matter where I am all I should do is hear it and my heart is ready to simply praise and worship the Living God. Even while I am at the gym working out, I will play Southern Gospel as I begin to pray for my day. There is nothing like the rush of energy I get when one of my old-time favorites comes through my headset.
My morning gym time is not only my time for my physical self and health but for my spiritual self and health as well. In the time, I spend at the gym, I am alone with my thoughts as my mind is free from distractions of the world around me. It is during this time that I do my deepest meditations and can truly connect with the Divine. In my time of meditation, I often find myself becoming more aware of all the goodness that God has granted, which often leads me to think of the needs of others in the world. This helps to center and prepare me for the patients and families I work with in my Chaplain Residency. My prayers become that of healing for a broken world, a broken society, for my church family as well as my personal family. I pray that others may see the love of God in both my words and actions.