Rev. E. J. Bowden

Pacific Unitarian (1920)


On April 28th Rev. Hurley Begun was installed as minister of the first parish of Bedford, Mass.

Rev. Minot O. Simons preached the sermon. Rev. John M. Wilson, Rev. Loren B. MacDonald and Rev. B. J. Bowden also took part.

Bedford meeting-house dates back to 1740 and is a fine type of the dignified colonial buildings of the period.

On May 12th Rev. E. J. Bowden was installed at Wilton, N. H., in the morning and at Milford, N. H., in the evening, both of which churches will be under his care. Rev. Paul Revere Frothingham preached the installation sermon, and among others who took part was Rev. Hurley Begun of Bedford. Mr. Bowden made an interesting account of his spiritual pilgrimage.

“I was born in Devonshire, the Granite county of England. My home was under the shadow of the majestic tors of Dartmoor. Like my ancestors of many generations I came from the soil. At the age of 13, I left home to seek my fortune. After a stiff course in the University of Adversity I graduated and entered the Methodist ministry at the age of twenty. But two years of strenuous circuit work broke my health completely and left scant hope of recovery.

“The next ten years were spent in the search for health, often in ways adventurous if not profitable. At last I found the Elixir of Life when cutting cordwood in the forests of the Northern part of Canada.

“With renewed health my thoughts turned again to the ministry, but my freethinking ways stirred up trouble. Finally the Methodist Conference compromised by making me assistant principal of an Indian industrial school. ‘He can’t do the Indians any harm,’ the wise-heads said, little realizing that they were giving me the great chance of my life.

“From Brandon in Manitoba I was sent to take charge of a school on the Cowichan reserve in British Columbia. There I was surgeon, nurse, missionary, and general adviser, as well as teacher.

“In the year 1913 I first came into contact with the more congenial thought of Unitarianism, and found it was my natural element. I went to the Pacific Unitarian school for the ministry, which works in conjunction with the University of California, and, after a four year course of study, took charge of the Unitarian Mission in Victoria, British Columbia. Toward the close of 1919, I left Victoria and came to Boston. I preached my first sermon in Wilton on the first Sunday of 1920, and in February received a hearty call which finds its sequel—also the sequel to my strange pilgrimage, in the happy formalities of this Installation.”

Source:  The Pacific Unitarian found in Google Books  Jun-Jul 1920, Page 156

Universalist Leader (1923)

ATLANTA.– ” Rev. Ernest J. Bowden, pastor. Rev. Bowden, who took charge of the work here in February, was given a call on May 27 to become pastor for one year, and has accepted. The Sunday School is flourishing under the superintendence of Hamilton Douglas and Mr. Knox. An orchestra has been organized by Mr. Bowden to augment the music of Sunday School and young people’s meetings. The Y. P. C. U. meets every Sunday at 6 O’clock, and the meeting is followed by a social hour with light refreshments. A Hikers’ club has been organized among the young people, of which Mr. and Mrs. Bowden are members. The Women’s Union is interested in a movement to improve prison conditions in Atlanta.

Information taken from the UNIVERSALIST LEADER, June 16, 1923 issue
Lyman Ward (of Camp Hill, Alabama) was part of the contributing staff
Southern Superintendent (of churches): Rev. Frances Briton Bishop, Montgomery Alabama
Georgia State Superintendent: Rev. A. G. Strain, Atlanta, Georgia
Kentucky state Superintendent: empty
Texas State Superintendent: Rev R. L Brooks, Elgin, Texas


Gravesite reference and obit (1961)

Ernest J. Bowden, distinguished religious news writer of the Post-Standard, died in the Melrae Nursing Home early yesterday after a long illness. He was the dean of religious and service club news writers in the Syracuse area.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Fairchild & Meech Funeral Chapel, 500 W. Onondaga St., with the Rev. Dr. Charles C. Noble, dean of Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University, officiating. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral chapel from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today. Friends are requested to omit flowers.

Mr. Bowden’s death marked the end of a distinguished specialized newspaper career with the Post Standard.  For 29 years he wrote the popular “Pulpit to Pew” church column in the Post Standard. For more than 20 years he covered the annual Civic Lenten services for this newspaper. During the same span he reported regularly on the weekly luncheons of local service clubs. During a 16 year period from (unreadable) Mr. Bowden wrote extensively about activities at Syracuse University. For five years this newspaper carried a daily signed column by Mr. Bowden reporting on university happenings.

He was born on July 18, 1876 in England. Mr. Bowden was the oldest of six children. His mother died when he was 10. When he was 12 years old he had to leave school to go to work. A year later he left home to fend for himself. He earned his living by working on farms. Studying in his spare time, Mr. Bowden, by the time he was 20 had in his words “won standing as a probationer in the Methodist ministry.” He had “oversight” of five churches and preached seven times a week.

Just as he was nicely embarked on his ministerial career he was beset by an illness which, he said, “unfitted me for public speaking” for the next 15 years. He turned to engineering as a career and was a traveling salesman for a firm of British engineers.  He went to Canada where he married the former Miss Katie Cherdon. She died in Atlanta Ga in 1923. He subsequently married Miss Ramona Baxter.

Original Source : Syracuse Post Standard, Thurs September 7, 1961, page 1

Also see Gravesite reference and obit

Family links:
Spouse: Ramona Baxter Bowden (1895 – 1984)
Burial: Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, USA, Plot: Sect 77 plot 33
Created by: Diane LM, Record added: Dec 02, 2011, Find A Grave Memorial# 81438092