Long-time Lake Junaluska supporter the Rev. Dr. Robert "Bob" C. Bowling is the 2020 recipient of the Chief Junaluska Award, an honor bestowed annually during Associates Weekend at Lake Junaluska.
The award honors outstanding service, community involvement and financial support of Lake Junaluska.
Mississippi native Bowling, a retired United Methodist pastor and district superintendent, first visited Lake Junaluska as a teenager. The 17-year-old youth director at Hattiesburg's Court Street United Methodist Church, he was asked by the pastor's wife to drive her and six young women to Youth Week at the Lake.
"It was a little slice of heaven," said Bowling of Lake Junaluska, the place where he felt his first call to ministry. "To look from the Cross over the lake to see God's handiwork and to know my purpose for Him, it was stirring to my soul."
Years later, Bowling introduced his wife, Robin, to Lake Junaluska on their first wedding anniversary. They returned every year and eventually made it their second home before retiring to Georgia to be closer to family. The couple's three children spent summers working at the Lake.
Bowling served the North Georgia United Methodist Conference for 40 years and received The Foundation for Evangelism’s Harry Denman Evangelism Award in 2005. He has been an advocate for Lake Junaluska and people's enjoyment of it since his introduction to the community. One example of his advocacy involves the campground at a time when its future was in doubt. Bowling worked to keep it open to accommodate the many young people who could only afford to visit the Lake if they could camp there.
A long-time Lake Junaluska Associate, Bowling has volunteered for lake clean-ups, assisted with the annual decorating of the Lake for Christmas, and served as Associates President. Initially accepting the chair's four-year term, his key role in the restructuring of the organization led him to serve in the position for more than six years. His leadership and work were critical in the design of a new organizational structure that has allowed the Associates to move into the future in partnership with the Lake Junaluska development office.
Don and Pat Rankin, the 2019 Chief Junaluska Award recipients, paid tribute to Bowling's dedication and service to Lake Junaluska in presenting him with this year's award. Bob Bowling “has had a love for this place early on in life," said Pat Rankin. "That affection for these mountains and this lovely lake has never dimmed."
"It was very emotional to be recognized for something I didn't anticipate," said Bowling. "I'm grateful to have played a part in Lake Junaluska's bright future."
The presence of Bowling and Robin's children and grandchildren at the award presentation made the event even more special for him. "Lake Junaluska is home to them, too," he said. "It will always be home for the Bob Bowling family."
Traditionally, Associates Weekend is an annual gathering of charitable supporters of Lake Junaluska and a celebration of the mission and ministry accomplished through their generosity. Due to COVID-19, in-person large group gatherings were not able to take place this year.
Lake Junaluska Associates are individuals or households who make an annual charitable gift of $250 or more towards the mission and ministry of Lake Junaluska. To learn more about Lake Junaluska Associates, visit lakejunaluska.com/associates.
Lake Junaluska is a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. For more information about Lake Junaluska, visit lakejunaluska.com.
Lake Junaluska Communications