John Cowden, Class of 2001

John Cowden is the Director of Music at Decatur First United Methodist Church in Decatur, Georgia, where he oversees a dynamic music ministry that includes choirs and handbell groups for people of all ages.

John had planned to make a career out of conducting a band in the armed forces, earning his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from Centenary College of Louisiana, but abruptly changed direction in his career after serving part time in a small church in north Shreveport. He and his wife (herself a graduate of Centenary College) moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he earned the Master of Sacred Music degree from Emory University, studying under Dr. Eric Nelson.

Following his time at Emory, John served as full time Director of Music at Embry Hills United Methodist Church for three years before moving to his current position, where in addition to leading the music ministry he has led clinics and workshops in handbell music, handbell techniques, and traditional worship. Choirs from Decatur First have performed nationally. John has also served as Assistant Director of the Atlanta Sacred Chorale (now the Atlanta Master Chorale) and guest conductor for the Callanwolde Concert Band.