By Pastor Paul Lawler


Dear Christ Church family,

It is my privilege to officially announce that after much laboring, Christ Church has hired a new Student Minister. Michael Bowman will be joining our staff, as Jody Hooven has moved into an Associate Pastor position at Christ Church.  You will have the opportunity of meeting Michael as he will be preaching in all three Christ Church worship gatherings on Sunday, July 22. We are delighted to welcome Michael and his wife, Sara, to Birmingham and into the Christ Church family!  In order for you to get to know Michael, here is a little more about Michael in his own words . . .

Letter from Michael


I’m Michael. I am Sara’s husband. We met in college at the campus ministry we were both involved with at the UT Chattanooga. We have now been married a little over four years. Big news: We are expecting our first child in November, and we could not be more excited!

I am from Memphis, Tennessee, but we are moving to Birmingham from Wilmore, Kentucky, where we both have graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary; I have a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Church Planting, and Sara earned her Master in Spiritual Formation.

I came to know Jesus when I was in 8th grade. From that point on, I recognized a certain tug towards ministry in my life. I ran from that. Yet, during my freshman year of college I had an experience with the Lord that changed everything for me. I knew from that point on that I was going to be a pastor.

Some things that might be helpful to know about me:

I am really excited to be a dad.

I am a huge Memphis Grizzlies fan.

I like to run and ride bicycles.

I enjoy playing with our two dogs, both rescued lab-mixed breeds named Gus and Lily.

I tend to geek out over a good cup of coffee.

When Sara and I visited Birmingham and Christ Church, it became clear rather quickly that this is where we were going to end up. Spending time with the staff, and literally driving all over the city with Paul, gave us a peace that we still cannot fully express. Personally, I am excited to discover the many ways in which God is already at work in the midst of Birmingham, and in the midst of Christ Church. I am looking forward to building relationships with students and their families.

We are excited for students and families of Christ Church, and the surrounding community, as our new Student Minister steps into the days ahead.


Paul Lawler is the Lead-Pastor of Christ Church UMC, and founder of The Immersion School, a discipleship training center in Birmingham, Alabama.  He and his wife, MJ, have four children and one daughter-in-law.  In addition to serving as a pastor, Paul and his brother, Dallas area businessman, Patrick Lawler, founded the Patricia B. Hammonds Girl’s Home for 60 orphans at high risk for human trafficking in Thailand. The home is operated through the international ministry of the Compassionate Hope Foundation.  They are currently laboring to build a second home in Thailand for 50 orphans vulnerable to being trafficked. Paul also serves on the North Alabama Conference Discipleship Team. He often tweets Kingdom thoughts at @plawler111.

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