No Sunday is the same at Historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia where Fr. Rob Wright’s four Sundays per month rotate between focused and polished Traditional, Contemporary, Glee Club, and Women’s Choir.
Rob and I were classmates at the Clergy Leadership Project, where we shared airport shuttle rides and stories about St. Paul’s, where Sunday attendance has quadrupled during his 9 year tenure. Rob says a commitment to excellence and taking the risk of trying something new is what it’s all about. In an age of mainline decline, Rob’s story is worth hearing.
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A deep commitment to learning and praying is at the foundation of Fr. Rob Wright’s success at St. Paul’s. His bright, well-reasoned, and enthusiastic approach to ministry inspire both his congregation as well as fellow clergy. Here are my notes:
Renew Your Traditions
Traditional churches often fall into the old habits of rote liturgy. Rob is committed to re-energizing existing practices, using them as ‘teachable moments,’ like the Offertory, when, on the first Sunday of each month, he puts his 10% tithe into the offering plate, explaining how giving to God comes first. Many in his congregation follow along.
Return to the Altar of the Desk
Good sermons take hard work and study. Rob’s commitment to making every Sunday an event worth talking about starts as he puts hours and hours into reading and writing, reminding preachers that God and the congregation are honored by study and preparation.
Rob takes time before, during, and after the service to greet and talk with church members. He says loving church members can’t be faked. While this comes naturally with some people, for others it takes identifying with Christ’s love for us to embrace everyone.
About Fr. Rob Wright
The Very Rev. Robert C. Wright is the tenth Rector of Historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, SW Atlanta, the oldest Black Episcopal Church in the state of Georgia. Rob was born in a Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and adopted by Charlene and Earl Wright at nine months old.
Upon High School graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy and became a helicopter crew-chief and Search and Rescue Diver. After five years of service, Rob enrolled in Howard University where he received a degree in U. S. History and Political Science. He has worked for the Children’s Defense Fund and two Mayors of Washington DC as a child advocate. He formerly served at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City where he was Canon Pastor and Vicar. He is a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, Cambridge University and the Harvard Summer Leadership Institute. Rob is married to Dr. Beth-Sarah Wright, a professor at Spelman College. They have five children: Jordan, Emmanuel, Selah, Noah, and Moses-Daniel.
Sponsors I Mentioned:
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