The Times West Virginian

Local News

February 22, 2014

Bowyer serves as guest minister on cruise ship

Has made four trips in eight years

FAIRMONT — Many people in Marion County believe that the Rev. Richard “Dick” Bowyer had retired when he gave up his job at Fairmont State’s Wesley Foundation after serving there for many years.

Well, they are partly correct. But there is some other ministering that Bowyer does now.

And its a position that many of us would enjoy having.

“I’m a guest minister,” he said. “A guest minister on a cruise ship.”

He says his chief responsibility is to provide interdenominational services on Sundays when the ship is at sea.

“You do a full service when you are at sea,” he said.

He also is expected to have shorter services on weekdays. It could be a devotional service.

“On my most recent cruise I did six services,” Bowyer said.

That cruise just ended on Feb. 8. It started in San Diego on Jan. 21.

This isn’t something that Bowyer does all the time. He and his wife have made just four trips in eight years.

“I bid on them,” he said. “The Holland-American Cruise Lines sends us a list of upcoming available cruises. But if you are selected, you have to get to the port and get back on your own. So if you have to fly to Rome, that probably wouldn’t be advisable.”

There is plenty of time between cruises.

“For me it’s been every two years,” Bowyer said. “You usually get six weeks or more if you’ve been approved to get ready. You have to have health insurance for being out of the country.”

Three of the four cruises the Bowyers have made have originated in San Diego. That’s convenient for them because they have a son living there. The other cruise originated in Fort Lauderdale.

He said the recent 18-day cruise was the longest he has been on.

“We did one of 15 days,” Bowyer said. “We went through the Panama Canal on that one.”

Bowyer has had several interesting experiences while on the cruises.

“We went to dinner and there was a couple at our table who were immigrants from Russia. They had come to the states in the 1980s,” he explained. “The gentleman said he was so glad we were there because he wanted to be a believer. He wanted to have faith. We talked a lot about it. Then after that, we exchanged emails for a while. I never received a final confirmation on whether he had become a believer so I still don’t know the ultimate outcome. He was a very intelligent man.”

Bowyer said they “lost” one travel day in his last cruise but “the scenery stayed the same.”

“One of the passengers had ro be flown by helicopter to a hospital in California. They had to turn the ship around to make that possible.”

He noted the Catholics held a Mass every day on the ship and they had their own minister. And the last two cruises they took, there was a rabbi aboard the ship.

“One of them asked were I was from, and I told him Fairmont,” Bowyer said. “He said he used to be a student rabbi here. On that cruise we observed Easter, and he and I and the Catholic priest held a panel discussion and discussed Easter and the Passover and how they were celebrated.”

He said there were about 1,200 people on the most recent cruise and something like 2,000 people on the others.

Bowyer said that there were about 80 or 100 people who attended the Sunday services.

He noted that one of his minister friends advised him, before his first cruise, to wear the minister’s collar when he was on ship. He said he had not worn one before and had “an awful time convincing people who I was and what my role was.”

Bowyer said that was good advice.

Email John Veasey at


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