The Reverend Dr. Robert Allan Hill
Chaplain to the University
Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Theology
PhD in New Testament | McGill University
MDiv | Union Theological Seminary (NYC)
BA | Ohio Wesleyan University
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Robert Allan Hill is the Dean of Marsh Chapel and a Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Theology at Boston University. He is the author of seventeen books, including: Charles River: Essays and Meditations for Daily Reading (2015). His weekly sermon can be heard live at Marsh Chapel, and around the globe on livestream available at bu.edu/chapel and on wbur.org, Sundays at 11am. His recent preaching and speaking schedule has included the New England Annual Conference, the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference, Chautauqua Institution, Morehouse College, the GBHEM\UMC Missio Dei Colloquy, and the UMC Lakeside Chautauqua, McGill University, and a number of pulpits across the country (Harvard Memorial, Foundry UMC, San Diego First UMC, Evanston First UMC, Asbury First UMC, and others).
Dean Hill’s religious leadership at Boston University (a community of 42,000 students, faculty and staff) across all of the 17 schools and colleges and involving the larger Boston community, is rooted and grounded in the historic pulpit of Marsh Chapel, Sunday morning at 11am. As Dean of the Chapel, he preaches most Sundays, leads the Marsh staff (35 full and part time persons in the areas of ministry, music, and hospitality), gives oversight to all University religious life (7 University Chaplains, 26 religious life groups, and 22 campus ministers), provides prayers for various all University events (Commencement, Matriculation, other), meets with the Deans’ Council, University Leadership Council, and University Leadership Group, and guides pastoral care for the community, through the chaplains’ offices. In recent years several theology students have chosen to do their field work at Marsh. Marsh Chapel hosts 12 weekly worship services. About 2,500 people a week, during the school year, are present for worship, study or service in the chapel building. For more information, visit the Chapel website.
Hill is the author of seventeen (17) books and teaches in the areas of New Testament and Pastoral Theology. Since 1981 he has taught in several schools including McGill University, Syracuse University, Lemoyne College, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Northeastern Seminary, United Seminary, Boston University, and various church settings. His passionate interest lies at the intersection of Scripture and life, especially in the work of preaching. Hence his research has combined publication related to the Gospel of John and Gnosticism, on the one hand, and preaching in ministry, on the other. For example, An Examination and Critique of the Understanding of the Relationship between Apocalypticism and Gnosticism in Johannine Studies appeared in 1997, while Snow Day: Reflections on the Practice of Ministry in the Northeast was published in 2003. Most of his writing, however, has been devoted to weekly sermons, over thirty years, in ten pulpits, some of which are collected, taped and published. Hill has taught Greek, New Testament, Preaching, the Practice of Ministry, Church Administration, Church Renewal, Pastoral Leadership, and other courses. His perspective on pastoral theology focuses on the special needs of the church in the Northeastern USA in the 21st Century. Publications in these areas include Renewal: Thought, Word, and Deed (2009), Seeing with the Heart: Devotions from Marsh Chapel (2010), Prophetic Protestant Sermons on America’s War in Iraq: Marsh Chapel, Boston University (2010), Charles River (2015), Parish Preaching (2016). In addition, he has written three other collections of sermons, a book on Methodism, and a book on the Gospel of John, The Courageous Gospel: John in Sermon, Lecture, Essay and Discussion (2013, Wipf and Stock), Hill has also written or co-authored and published a number of articles, chapters, sermons and essays.
At Boston University School of Theology, Hill teaches one course in New Testament each year (usually fall term, and usually the Gospel of John), and one course in Pastoral Theology each year (usually spring term, and usually a course in Preaching or Pastoral Leadership). He participates in teaching courses for undergraduates of Boston University, on ‘Vocation’, and on the history of Boston University. The course on John differs from some other studies of Johannine literature in that it strongly, equally relies both on the Jewish background to the gospel (from Hill’s study at Union/NYC with J.L. Martyn and R.E. Brown) and on the Hellenistic (Gnostic?) background to the gospel (from Hill’s study at McGill with F. Wisse and N.T.Wright.).
Bob Hill has been preaching since 1976, including New York State appointments in New Hope, Scott, Forest Home Ithaca, Burke, Constable, Erwin Syracuse, Oran, Central Lakes District, and Asbury First Rochester, before coming in 2006 to Marsh Chapel, Boston). As an elder (Upper New York Conference) in the United Methodist Church he has had experience in ten local churches, five different annual conferences, multiple annual conference board assignments, General and Jurisdictional Conference participation, General Board membership (GBHEM), various speaking engagements, and denominational leadership discussions. His views of the present condition of the church, particularly in the Northeast, and prospects for ministry into the future, have provided a complementary perspective to that of some recent Northeastern UMC denominational leadership. His main denominational interests have been in Large Church ministry and Theological Education. Dr. Hill was given the Harry Denman award for Evangelism in 2003. Currently he serves on the Board of the New England Annual Conference United Methodist Foundation (and Executive Committee), the New England Annual Conference Stewardship Committee, the Board of Visitors of the Learning Project Elementary School (Back Bay, Boston), the Board of Visitors of Harvard Memorial Church, the Board of Hillel Boston University, and the Board of Harvard Epworth Wesley Foundation. He is an active member of the Boston Ministers’ Club and the New Haven Theological Discussion Group, and an inactive Rotarian. He attends annual and regional meetings of SBL and AAR. He loves sports, and played basketball and soccer at the high school and college levels. His wife Jan is a musician and a retired teacher, whose children’s choir of The Learning Project Elementary School for many years sang regularly in Boston, most notably once a year in early May on the steps of Trinity Church, Copley Square. Bob and Jan have three grown children and eight grandchildren.
Contact Dean Hill:
Marsh Chapel, Boston University
735 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215