By Sofia Di Noto
Beth Bowers serves as both the Church Relations Coordinator and an adjunct professor for Rochester University's Department of Theology and Ministry.
Can you describe your position at RU?
“I have two positions; I work in the Department of Theology and Ministry as the Church Relations Coordinator and I teach for the Department of Theology and Ministry. As the Church Relations Coordinator, I get to spend time connecting with local churches, specifically faith leaders, ministers and pastors. I get to listen to their stories and get to know their communities in order to find ways for potential partnership and shared learning, as well as ways that we at Rochester University can be good neighbors to faith communities in our area. In my role as a professor, I usually teach a couple of sections of Introduction to Christian Faith, which is one of the core classes that all students at Rochester University are required to take. I also teach Theology of Ministry and Spiritual formation.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“For the Church Relations portion, the most rewarding part is the opportunity to listen and learn from different faith leaders in this area and provide opportunities for us to be together and learn together. I find it to be an immense privilege to listen to people’s stories and learn more about them of what God is up to in their lives. I guess truly in teaching that’s probably also the most rewarding part is getting to know students and getting to walk alongside them in their discovery of faith and of God.”
What do you do to have fun or relieve stress? Any hobbies?
“The most essential rhythm I engage in regularly is taking long walks. I don’t always succeed but I try to do 2 to 3 miles of good walking each day. That is both stress relief and it is fun. It has become a kind of rhythm for me. A spiritual practice of just engaging my body and just having that decompression/downtime to recenter myself. That’s probably the most critical stress reliever. Other than that I love to be with my family, especially watching movies or tv shows together. I love international traveling, that would be the other thing.”
Where did you grow up?
“I actually grew up right around Rochester University. I lived in Rochester Hills kind of the first part of my childhood. Then my family moved to Shelby Township but still within 10 minutes of Rochester University. My parents actually both worked at Rochester University, my dad is still there on a part-time basis, and recently celebrated 50 years of working at RU, and my mom was there for 42 years. So I sort of grew up on campus actually.”
What is your favorite thing to do in the Rochester area? Or in Michigan?
“In Rochester, I love being downtown, especially walking around downtown. I really love the Rochester Municipal Park in Downtown Rochester. My very favorite thing is walking on the Paint Creek Trail. The Clinton River Trail connects right there at RU but if you go a little bit north of that The Clinton River Trail connects to the Paint Creek Trail. In Michigan, overall, I like to hike in different locations, but I also love traveling to little towns up north, specifically Mackinaw Island and Petoskey.”
What do you feel most passionate about in your life?
“I would say the thing I am most passionate about just, in general, is journeying with people. That looks like a lot of different things to me. Whether that is parenting my kids, being a partner to my husband, or my work at Rochester University. Just the opportunity to journey with people in whatever ways God works in their lives. I find immense pleasure in being able to walk aside and bare witness people's journeys.”
What is your most embarrassing moment?
“I have too many to name! I’ll tell you one that was recent. This summer I was with my kids and we were getting ready to walk into my office in Muirhead. My kids were a little ahead of me and I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was walking and I just kind of trip in the grass and I just went flying and landed right in the front yard of Muirhead and Gallaher! I don’t know if anyone saw me, but I was pretty embarrassed.”
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
“I grew up in a religious tradition that was not very affirming or welcoming of women in ministry positions. As I have been wrestling with my calling in those varies of my life, what I had to overcome was what people expected from me. I’ve had to overcome some very real barriers in church life in order to actually fulfill what I understand my calling to be.”
What is a random fact about you?
“I have climbed Mount. Kilimanjaro. In the mountain climbing world, they talk about the Big Seven, which are the Seven Tallest Peaks on each continent. Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in Africa.”
What single piece of advice would you give students today?
“The single piece of advice I would give to students today would be to be present in whatever moment you find yourselves in. So, taking the time to actually have good conversations with people. Putting down the phone, and the social media. Just being fully present in spaces of embodied communities. That goes along with being attentive to your surroundings. Learning to really be present wherever you are and being attentive to wherever you find yourself in. Devote yourself to those places and people.”