The Office of Church Relations serves as the primary bridge between Emory & Henry and the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. We are committed to extending our resources to assist churches, pastors, conference staff and laity.
We continue to emphasize the importance of Christian formation and the development of character as part of the life-long experience of college life.
United Methodist Church and Emory & Henry College
Emory & Henry’s liberal arts tradition began in 1836 under the foundation of the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Two of the College’s four founders were affiliated with the Church: layman Tobias Smyth and minister Rev. Creed Fulton. The College’s namesake is John Emory, a renowned Methodist minister of the 19th century. Emory & Henry continues its affiliation with the United Methodist Church to this day. (For more information about the history and heritage of Emory & Henry, the hardback book Legacy & Vision: A Pictoral History of Emory & Henry College can be purchased at the Emory Mercantile or visit the History web page under the About section.)
Emory United Methodist Church is located on the Emory & Henry campus and serves the Emory, Va. community.
About the Holston Conference
The Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, named for the Holston River in Southwest Virginia, is made up of over 800 Methodist churches in Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee. Emory & Henry in partnership with the Holston Conference seeks to fulfill their mission as students follow a path of intellectual and spiritual growth. The College and the Conference are a beacon as they guide students and others in the active engagement of community service and servant leadership.
Emory & Henry and the Holston Conference support each other to build a strong bond between higher education and the church. The college provides opportunities for students and faculty to be involved in worship, ministry, and service at local churches; assists students with obtaining faith-based internships; provides speakers and music ensembles for Methodist church activities; and hosts conference and ministry events on campus. The Holston Conference supports the College in giving and assists the Admission Office with the recruitment of prospective students while affirming the value of a Christian liberal arts education at the College.
Leadership Emory & Henry is a leadership development program for students, faculty and staff from historically underrepresented backgrounds to enhance and develop key leadership skills in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, civic engagement and social justice. Sponsored out of the President’s Office and the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, this program is designed to motivate participants to develop and enhance quality leadership knowledge, skill and ability and to increase awareness in diversity, equity and inclusion in everyday life.
Dr. John W. Wells – Guest Speaker for Church Street UMC Summer Lecture Series
Emory & Henry President Dr. John W. Wells presented a guest lecture at Church Street United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. for their summer lecture series. Watch the video above as President Wells speaks about the limits of secularism.
Meet the People of Emory & Henry Church Relations
Rev. Sharon Bowers
The Rev. Sharon Bowers, recently appointed to the newly formed Office of Church Relations in the President’s Office, was previously the Director of the Inclusion & Dialogue Center at Emory & Henry College. She has 30 years of experience in full-time ministry, leading churches and other faith-based organizations, advocating for diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging in the Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church and beyond.
Sharon Bowers—an elder in full connection in the Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, has a Master’s Degree in Sociology and a second Master’s Degree in Divinity, Womanist Theology. She is completing her dissertation entitled “EXPANDING INTERSECTIONALITY TO INCLUDE SPIRITUALITY AS A SACRED TOOL OF THE BLACK WOMAN’S RESISTANCE.” She will receive her Ph.D. in Political Science in December 2022. Rev. Bowers serves as the Director of Church Relations, Special Advisor to the President on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives, and the Lead Collaborator on the Women, Gender and Justice Center Initiative. She joined Emory & Henry College in 2020. She is the author of Character Based Leadership: Mark the Perfect Man-Leading and Living With Character. She has a wealth of experience in corporate America, the non-profit sector, the federal government, and church pastoral leadership throughout the United States. Rev. Bowers has served as a college professor, lead pastor in urban and rural and in cross-cultural and cross-racial appointments, national motivational speaker, and professional life coach.
Rev. Dan Gray