Union Helped Her Follow Her Heart

Union Helped Her Follow Her Heart

Categories: 1836 Legacy Circle, Alums in the World

A conversation with Rev. Sharon Nordmeyer Hope

Rev. Sharon Nordmeyer Hope, M. Div. ’86, is giving back to Union Theological Seminary through her will because the seminary allowed her to follow her call—including setting up a full-time prison ministry while a student.

“Union totally supported me,” Sharon said. “President Donald Shriver loaned me his car on Fridays so that I could drive to the Sing Sing Correctional Facility. I received scholarships and grants. I was able to ‘follow my heart.’ ”

Following her heart included a career change from being a professional opera singer in Germany and New York. “I would pass by Union and have this incredible pull to go inside and register,” she recalled. “When I came to Union, I had no sense of call, just that I had wanted to become a minister since I was a little girl. The Seminary allowed me to build a relationship with God that was based on my call and not anyone else’s.”

While at Union in the fall of 1983, Sharon began working with inmates and their families on visitation issues, eventually helping to establish a support network. In 1985 she also joined a program to train Sing Sing prisoners as chaplain assistants, counselors, and teachers. She later became the pastor of a Congregational church in Rhode Island, where she is now retired.

Sharon urged other grads to support Union, the only institution she is leaving money to. “Those of us nurtured and changed by Union have a mandate to keep Union alive and thriving for the future,” Sharon said. “If there’s ever a voice that needs to be heard, it’s Union’s. Some schools produce pastors; others produce scholars. Union produces people who change the world!”