Skip Bowersox, who graduated from Sturgis High School in 1996, is now a resident of Homer, Alaska. Most of his family still lives in Sturgis and has for the past three generations or more, Bowersox said.
Local family members include Bowersox’s mother and step father, Mary and Don Houser; father and step mother Mike and Ro Bowersox; and siblings Skeet Bowersox and April Hurley.
Although he wasn’t one who "had to get out" of his hometown, that's what Bowersox did soon after graduating. By fall 1996, he was a student at the Alaska Bible Institute in Homer. For several years, Bowersox was back and forth between Sturgis and Alaska. When his brother opened Bowersox Floor Center, he installed tile. When the Youth for Christ building was under construction, he helped with the new building.
In 2001, it looked like Bowersox might settle in Sturgis when he came back to work on staff for YFC and at Sturgis Missionary Church. That was a season of growth. "In a leadership role, I found it difficult to work through my own ego, laziness and immaturity," Bowersox said.
"Ken and my YFC co-workers were tremendous guides for me and I had the real privilege of working side by side with Chris Knight and Paul Woods, (Missionary Church pastors) taking note of their integrity behind closed doors." But he didn't stay. In spring 2008, Bowersox returned to Homer to marry Erin Fisher. They had been friends for more than a decade. Erin, a daughter of Ken Fisher of Constantine, has been a lifelong Homer resident. Her father and his wife, Sally, moved to Alaska more than 30 years earlier to teach at Alaska Bible Institute. Newly married, Bowersox started teaching at ABI and continued with floor installation."
"I love the combination of working a trade while working in relational ministry. It grounds a person between two extremes where 'Thy kingdom come' meets 'our daily bread'. It's a tension I really enjoy," he said.
Bowersox enjoys many things. "I loved growing up in the Sturgis area," Bowersox said, listing advantages including four distinct seasons, easy access to nature, a mature infrastructure, the wealth of destination possibilities provided by the road system, the work ethic and character quality of an agricultural community and the Midwest in general. But for Bowersox, the greatest wealth of Sturgis is the many people who had an impact on his life. "I found the people I grew up around to be very generous with their influence and it has truly made all the difference in my life," he said. "I had a great high school experience — except for the school work part."
Diane Gorsuch, Sally Baldwin and several other teachers went "above and beyond" in taking a vested interest in his life. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget Lynn Brand's gracious way of addressing my laziness as a student while simultaneously affirming my potential as a teacher," Bowersox said. "Her influence was a perfect balance of grace and truth, and as a carefree, directionless kid, I needed that. Today, 20 years later, I speak before literally hundreds of people a week and have numerous opportunities to teach all over the world. Her willingness to influence my life has positive consequences far beyond Sturgis."
That was only the beginning of Bowersox's list of his beloved Sturgis residents. Being raised in the church, he listed friends in the faith including, "Larry and Linda Grate, Ardi and Vicky Eichorn, Mike and Becky Friesner, Linda Eichorn, just to name a few. These are people, along with my family, who shaped my faith, work ethic, relationship skills, emotional intelligents, values, all the stuff that I lean on to navigate my life," he said Being involved in the community, Bowersox found many others, generous with their time and insights including Dave Smith, Steve Zarza, Jim Ware, Doug Carr, Jeremy Meese, Jim Carpenter, Bill Fisher, Ken Mills and the YFC staff.
"In my work now as a pastor, teacher, small-business owner, I draw
continually on the insights I’ve been given by these people," Bowersox
"It's a pleasure for me to reflect on these names." Still teaching at ABI, Bowersox and a longtime friend together serve as pastors of Church on the Rock Homer, a congregation of about 400 people, 120 of whom are children younger than fifth grade. "So that’s a lot of young families," he said.
Bowersox also is involved with a ministry called Intentional, a mentorship training program which he and friends developed and present in Homer as well as India, Bhutan, Hawaii and New Zealand. That’s what matters to Bowersox, intentional relationships, which he attributes to his roots in Sturgis. So what Bowersox appreciates most about Sturgis, the people, is also true of his life now.
"One thing I love about ministering in and from Homer is that I am surrounded by personal friends who are real quality people," Bowersox said. "We share opportunities to serve with each other. The result is wide exposure to the needs around us and also wide exposure of our own talents."
However, none of it is more important to Bowersox than the relationships at home with his wife Erin and their two daughters.
"So I have a lot of cool opportunities up here, but my favorite is to make good use of the cold and dark winter by being home with my girls," he said. "That's my favorite."