Rev. Dr. Rob Walters

Ethnic Background: White

Conference: Oregon Idaho

Probationary Date: 06/14/2018

Full Membership Date: 06/14/2018

Number of Eligible Quadrenniums: 5


Education:
FORMAL EDUCATION

Doctor of Ministry • United Theological Seminary (2022)
Research/Dissertation title: Creating Multicultural Awareness through Adult Education in a Predominantly White Homogeneous Church in Idaho

Master of Divinity • St. Paul School of Theology (2012)
Specialization: Prison Ministry and Restorative Justice

Master of Music Education • University of Kansas (2011)

Law Enforcement Certificate • University of Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (2000)

Music Education Graduate Course • University of Missouri at Kansas City (1998)

Teacher Education Program Certification • University of Kansas (1996)
Specialization: K-12 Music

Bachelor of Music Education • University of Kansas (1995)

IMMERSIVE EDUCATION

Multiplying Ministries • a 8-session program, Greater Northwest Episcopal Area (2015-16)

New Church Start Incubator • a two-year program, Great Plains Annual Conference (2015-16)

Wesleyan Pilgrimage • A multi-week program, General Board of Discipleship, on site in England (2015)

Great Preaching • a two-year program, Great Plains Annual Conference (2014-15)

Prison Ministry Immersion • Three weeks each year in the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections (2011 & 2012)

Native American Immersion • Three weeks each year in New Mexico (2010 & 2011)

Ministry Experience:
DISTRICT AND CONFERENCE LEADERSHIP

Council on Finance and Administration
District Committee on the Superintendency
Candidacy Mentor
District Committee on Ordained Ministry (starting in Fall 2022)

LOCAL CHURCH LEADERSHIP

First United Methodist Church of Nampa, ID (280 members)
Pastor (2021-present)

Cathedral of the Rockies of Boise, ID (2,400 members)
Campus pastor (2016-2021)

Louisburg United Methodist Church of Louisburg, KS (324 members)
Senior pastor (2014-2015)

Monticello United Methodist Church of Shawnee, KS (190 members)
Senior pastor (2011-14)

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Leawood, KS (20,000 approximately)
Associate pastor (2011), Pastoral intern (2009-2011), Director of Instrumental Music (2005-2010), Director of Youth Instrumental Music (2004-05)

Saint Paul School of Theology Kansas City, MO (seminary)
Director of Chapel choir and instrumental music (2008-10)

Grace United Methodist Church Olathe, KS (2,000 members)
Director of Instrumental Music (1995-97 & 2000-04), Technical Team Lead (2000-04), Director of Children’s’ Handbell Programs (1987-1990)

Community and Ecumenical Involvement:
Tusonge Children's Ministries, Kampala, Uganda
Founding pastor of this 501c3 that provides housing, education, medical care, and food for children from remote villages of Uganda as they develop into young adult leaders. As an all-volunteer organization, this group supports local Ugandans and refugees from other areas in the way they choose to be supported rather than approach service from a colonization mindset.

Interfaith Equality Coalition, Boise, ID
Participation in prayer vigils at at the statehouse, walks, and support of groups against oppression in all forms.

Nampa Interfaith Council
Participation with a group of clergy to support city-wide initiatives.

Experienced foster and adoptive parent
As a family, we have chosen to support children from a multitude of backgrounds that find themselves a part of the foster care system through no fault of their own. We have spoken about the challenges of the system in public environments and taught prospective families.

Referee
High school basketball
Youth, high school, college, and pro soccer

Other Relevant Experience:
OTHER PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE

Police Officer (2000-2009), Bonner Springs, KS
Serve as police officer in this suburban department in Greater Kansas City.

Teacher/ Band Director, Olathe Public Schools, KS (1996-2001 and 2003-08)
Serve as band director for hundreds of students over 10 years.

Community Musicals Conducted: Christmas at Resurrection, Sweet Charity, Bye Bye Birdie, Brigadoon, Annie Get Your Gun, and The Music Man. Other musicals performed: Oklahoma, Carousel, The Secret Garden, Westside Story.

PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS

Creating Multicultural Awareness through Adult Education in a Predominantly White Homogeneous Church in Idaho • Doctoral Dissertation

Safe Church • a presentation/workshop for church safety teams and church leaders.

Behind the Walls • a presentation/workshop as an introductory to prison injustice and prison ministry.

Missional Music • a presentation/workshop designed for music leaders for youth and adults.


Why are you being called to the episcopacy at this time? What is it that you especially bring to the role of bishop with the current challenges facing our denomination and the Western Jurisdiction right now?
As a candidate for the episcopacy, I am humbled to have been nominated alongside my colleagues who have incredible gifts for the role of Bishop. This jurisdiction pursues safe and affirming space for all persons and I am honored to be nominated to a role that helps advance that goal.

I am cognizant of the journey that led me to hear this calling. I did not begin life in the UMC. Rather, as a child of a different denomination years ago, I experienced the institution of the church through the lens of judgment and misappropriated verses used to harm those I loved. Over the years to follow, and a denominational change to the UMC, God called me to work for institutional change. During this time of denominational division, my passion to serve those who have been harmed by churches is the first tool I bring to this role.

I am not a first-career pastor. Previously, I served as a music teacher and later as a police officer in a large urban environment. This was an epiphany for me, a middle-class white male, as I saw first-hand the abject pain of poverty, racism, and systemic injustice. Little did I know at the time, God would later call me into ordained ministry. MDiv work at the Saint Paul School of Theology would challenge me to enter the walls of the same prisons into which I had previously subjected others. After a specialization in prison ministry and restorative justice, I saw the horrors of racism more clearly on both sides of the virtual and physical walls. This formed the second tool I bring to the episcopacy…a deep desire to end systematic racism and white supremacy in all forms, especially in the church.

I love the UMC and I am pained by the division but it is not institutional division that causes pain. Rather, it is seeing the institution take a stand against people God loves in the LGBTQIA+ community. I have experienced the UMC as a place of grace that I did not know as a young person. To see that affirmation, love, and grace not be extended to all is harmful. This formed the third tool I bring to the episcopacy…a desire to ensure the church is an affirming place for all.

Even though I have served in more than one career, I have simultaneously served in a church part-time or full-time since I was 16 years old. I want to see the Western Jurisdiction and the larger church model a grace-filled faith, to affirm all persons, and to truly lead the way in the healing that must be done in the UMC. God has used my journey and many of you as my colleagues, coupled with tangible skill sets like doctoral work in multicultural awareness, to equip me for this nomination to the episcopacy. I humbly offer to serve you.

Describe how the last two years have affected your ministry.
God walks with us, even through the valley of the shadow of death. COVID-19 may have changed the “method” through which we take on the task of ministry, but it has not changed our spirit for what it means to be a people called “Methodist.”

I remember our 1st service that morning with regular attendance. By the 2nd service with quarantines in place, only a handful were there. Immediate pain…what I valued the most, community, was eroded. “How do we minister now?” was the question. We said, “we’ll be back by Easter” not knowing it would be 2 years. The pandemic was a challenge to both our desire and willingness to “make disciples” by whatever means necessary.

COVID touched my ministry, but also my family. When I contracted Delta, the hospital said I was the first breakthrough vaccinated case in the building. (Well, lucky me.) My thoughts were in isolation between God and I, a God that promised to walk with us through it all. I was blessed to recover but my sister-in-law was not so fortunate and passed due to COVID. This was alongside the parishioners I buried. God walks with us, yes! But, at times, the pain is deep and real and pushes us to remain faithful to a God who still speaks in a “still small voice” if we are just willing to listen.

From a ministry perspective, we learned skills that will be with us forever–improved streaming, outdoor worship, communion on a screen, virtual choirs, visiting the frail through screen doors, new ways to engage people, and the realization that sometimes “parishioners” are people we will never meet in person. We find the only possible levity in phrases like “you’re muted.” There were moments of trial and error, but God walked with us. The key shift, though, was not just skills we learned BUT RATHER THE IMPORTANCE OF ADAPTATION IN AN INSTITUTION THAT STRUGGLES WITH CHANGE.

In reality, COVID has pushed us to “unmute” our ability to adapt and trust God. God walks with us if we are willing to transform and allow it to happen. I also recognize, though, that many of these efforts during COVID were also defining moments of white privilege. Online ministry is expensive. Health care and access to vaccines were better in wealthy white areas. COVID further aggravated a gap defined by wealth and race. We must do better to listen to a God that calls us to justice. What I learned during COVID was to value relationships above all else, relationships that must cross the boundaries often set by “the institution.” We must love and affirm persons of color, those in the LGBTQIA+ community, and those on the margins. We worship a God that says, “I will be with you.” Now, we must be with each other, too.


Endorser: Rev. Nancy Amos

Relationship to Candidate: Elder, Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference

Shalom! I am Nancy Amos, an Ordained Elder in the OR-ID Conference. This letter is written in support of Rev. Dr. Rob Walters as a candidate for the episcopacy. I have known Rob for the last 5 years as he served the local church in Boise, and I served in Idaho Falls.

During some very difficult ministry times in one of my appointments, I found Rob to be very pastoral to me. He became my pastor who encouraged me, lifted me up and asked me some hard questions for my personal discernment. This is just one example of why I believe that Rob is an excellent candidate for the office of Bishop. As pastors in the local church, we need a Bishop who can relate to local church ministry, one who encourages, asks the hard questions and challenges us to do serious self-reflection.

I know that Rob possesses a deep love for the United Methodist Church with all the current realities and challenges. He exhibits hope for our future as a denomination. Currently in the UMC, this is critical. Rob brings with him an understanding of serving churches of all sizes from small to the very large. This perspective is advantageous to the episcopacy.

Rob has a love of learning that will serve him well as a candidate for episcopacy. He is hard-working and possesses a deep heart for inclusion. He has vision of a church where the divide between races, sexes and sexual orientation no longer exists. Rob has a deep heart for a church where all are welcomed and included. I fully support this episcopacy journey.


Endorser: Rev. Dr. Duane Anders

Relationship to Candidate: Senior pastor, Cathedral of the Rockies

Grace and peace. This is a letter of support for my friend and colleague the Rev Dr. Robert Walters as he continues to explore a call to the episcopacy. I have known Rob in multiple capacities. He was appointed here to the clergy team and served as Campus Pastor at Boise First UMC Amity campus. I have also known Rob as a learner as he pursued and completed his DMin degree, and I served as his mentor.

Rob brings many gifts to the church and comes to this clergy role after careers in law enforcement, music education and church music. This is a gift to us. He has served the local church in large, medium and small congregations. He is a learner. His work through his Doctor of Ministry expanded his leadership in and understanding of the call of the church to multi-ethnic ministries.

Rob has served in two distinct annual conferences and brings to his leadership journey the understanding of multiple jurisdictions and the uniqueness of each.

His work here at Cathedral was to move a campus that had just survived a church split from decline, fear, and brokenness to stability, trust and health. This was no easy journey.

He has served on local mission teams with Habitat for Humanity. He is the voice of the voiceless in issues of justice and has served on international mission teams in Africa and Mexico.

Rob is a person who loves the local church and desires to see the body of Christ become a movement where all means all.

I support this journey of my friend and colleague.


Endorser: Rev. Adam Hamilton

Relationship to Candidate: Senior Pastor, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

To Delegates of the Western Jurisdictional Conference,

I’m glad to write this reference letter for Rob Walters. Rob served on our staff from 2004-2011. He began serving in our music ministry where he did a great job leading our adult orchestra and grew our youth orchestra from a half a dozen kids to over 100.

During this time he felt called to ordained ministry and attended seminary while serving on our pastoral staff. He was a passionate, effective, and caring pastor who worked tirelessly to shepherd our senior adult ministry, ministry to the recently divorced and to serve the needs of those in the hospital, the grieving and those needing other kinds of pastoral care.

We are grateful for Rob’s ministry, his passion and his love for people. It’s been a joy to watch from a distance as his ministry has flourished in the years since he left our team!

Adam Hamilton
Senior Pastor
The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

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