Profile

Robert Allan Hill

Dean of Marsh Chapel, Chaplain to the University, Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Theology

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 sixteen books, including Charles River: Essays and Meditations for Daily Reading (2015), Toward a Common Hope (2018), andAn Addressable Community (2020). His weekly sermon can be heard live around the globe at wbur.org, Sundays at 11am, and on National Public Radio in New England, WBUR 90.9FM. His recent preaching and speaking engagements have included the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, Chautauqua Institution, Morehouse College, the GBHEMUMC Missio Dei Colloquy, Ohio Lakeside Chautauqua, the New England Annual Conference, and various churches across the country.

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, whose Sunday service, as noted, is broadcast on NPR each Sunday morning at 11am (wbur 90.9FM, and wbur.org). As Dean of the Chapel, he preaches most Sundays, leads the Marsh staff (40 full and part time persons in the areas of ministry, music and hospitality), gives oversight to all University religious life (seven 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 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 fieldwork at Marsh. Marsh Chapel hosts 16 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.

Robert Allan Hill is the author of sixteen 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 2000. Most of his writing, however, has been devoted to weekly sermons, over forty 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), Hill has also written or co-authored and published a number of articles, chapters, sermons and essays. His current work is focused on a forthcoming volume related to liberal biblical theology.

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 also participates in teaching courses for undergraduates of Boston University, on ‘Vocation’, and occasionally on the Gospel of John, in the BU Core Curriculum. His STH 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.).

Dean Hill has been preaching since 1976 (including NY appointments in New Hope, Scott, Forest Home Ithaca, Burke, Constable, Erwin Syracuse, Oran, Central Lakes District, Asbury First Rochester, and Marsh Chapel in 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, 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, 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 teacher, whose children’s choir sings 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 seven grandchildren.

Publications

Books          

An Addressable Community (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2020), ISBN: 978-1-5326-8888-1

Toward a Common Hope: Chautauqua Lake Sermons (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2018) ISBN: 978-1-5326-5741-2

Parish Preaching (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2016) ISBN: 978-1-4982-9745-5

Charles River: Essays and Meditations for Daily Living (Eugene, Oregon:  Wipf and Stock, 2015) ISBN:978-1-62564-981-2

The Courageous GospelResources for Teachers, Students and Preachers of the Fourth Gospel (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2013), ISBN: 978-1-61097-3748                                                           

God’s Hand to You: Sermons Preached by Rev. Irving G. Hill (private publication, edited with Nelson Family, 2013)

Signs of Hope in United Methodism (2013, E. Mellen electronic, currently available in electronic form at bu.edu/chapel)

In the Depths of the Depression: Sermons, Erwin United Methodist Church (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2011) ISBN: 978-1-61097-156-0

A Village Green: Sermons from Asbury First UMC (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2011) ISBN: 978-1-61097-228-4

Seeing with the Heart: Devotions from Marsh Chapel (San Diego: Cognella, 2010) ISBN: 978-1-935551-96-6

Renewal: Thought, Word, and Deed (Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield\Hamilton, 2009) ISBN: 0-7618-4691-3

Prophetic Protestant Sermons on America’s War in Iraq (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2009) ISBN: 0-7734-3751-7

Snow Day: Reflections on the Practice of Ministry in the Northeast: (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2003) ISBN: 0-7618-2492-8

An Examination and Critique of the Understanding of the Relationship Between Apocalypticism and Gnosticism in Johannine Studies (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997) ISBN: 0-7734-2282-X

Pastoral Preaching (Syracuse: Church Center Printing, 1993). Out of print, but now included in Parish Preaching, above.

Guide for New Members (Syracuse: Church Center Printing, 1992). Out of print, but now included in An Addressable Community, above.

Articles, Papers, and Chapters

“On Meeting Sin Again For The First Time”, SOCIAL SCIENCES JOURNAL, ed. Dr. Jay Corrin, forthcoming (2018)

“No Male and Female: Ruminations on The New Creation”, UMC GBHEM Boston Colloquy, November 2017, published in Missio Dei and the United States: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness (Nashville: GBHEM\UMC, 2018) ISBN: 978-1-945935-37-4

“Wesleyan Prayer: Q&A with the Rev. Dr. Robert Allan Hill, Dean of Marsh Chapel”, Upper New York Conference ADVOCATE, April 2017. 

Law, Love, and Life: Conversations Theological and Musicological with Luther, Bach, and Schweitzer for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion.

“Narrative Preaching for Advent and Christmas”, Boston University School of Theology e-magazine, STH Connect, December 2011.

“Faith and Reason” (w. Katherine C. Hawkins), Research at Boston University, 2011 (or bu.edu/research).

“The Embodied Theory-Praxis Relationship: Two Voices on Vocation as a Practical Theologian and Pastor” (w/S Cady, Boston APT conference, April 10, 2010).

MOTIVES e-magazine, the annual online publication of Marsh Chapel Boston University, Volumes 1 (2009: Iraq) and 2 (2010: Darwin), RA Hill, general editor; bu.edu/chapel/motives

“Remembering Chalmers’, Boston University School of the Theology FOCUS, December 2009.

“The Last Best Hope”, in MOTIVES e-magazine, the annual online publication of Marsh Chapel, Boston University, April 2009.

Response to Virginia Tech: Religion and Ethics Weekly,  April 20, 2007, PBS\NYC.

Hymns of the Heart” (4 Psalms) in Quarterly Review (winter 2004): Toward a Feminist Wesleyan Theology (Nashville: Abingdon, 2004). ISSN: 0270-9287.

“Generosity”, in First Fruits: 14 Sermons on Stewardship (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003, ed. Mosser, Bauknight), ISBN: 0687-02512-5.

Theological Education and the Renewal of the Church”, Festschrift for Dr. Frederik Wisse (in honor of his 2004 retirement), (Montreal: McGill 2006)

“Help from United Methodist Colleges for United Methodist Preacher’s Kids” in Circuit Rider (United Methodist Publishing House), 6/92.

“An Examination and Critique of the Understanding of the Relationship between Apocalypticism and Gnosticism in Johannine Studies” in McGill ARC, 10/87.

Five Questions about EMLC” in The Circuit Rider (United Methodist Publishing House), 3/87. 

Reviews

Evangelism After Christendom, Bryan Stone (2007, Circuit Rider Web Reviews, Ken Carter)

The End of Words, Richard Lischer (2006, Circuit Rider Web Reviews, Ken Carter)

The Logic of Renewal, William J. Abraham in Quarterly Review (winter, 2005) (Nashville:  Abingdon, 2005).

Abortion and Divorce in Western Law, M. A. Glendon in Circuit Rider (United Methodist Publishing House), 3/90.

The First Urban Christians, W. Meeks in McGill ARC, 11/83.

The Fate of the Earth, J. Schell in McGill ARC, 5/83.

Book Cover Endorsements: W. Lawrence, Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church; A.\J. Fitz-Gibbon, Secular Monasticism: A Journey; F. Rich, Christian Nation; C. Garner, As the Spirit Moves: Daily Devotional.                              

Sermons and Other: 

2019 Spring/Summer speaking, preaching, teaching:  Florida, Texas, California, Ohio, New York (upstate and down), and New England related to the current condition of the UMC.

Three Sermons and Three Lectures, New England Annual Conference, June 14-16, 2018

Eight Sermons at Chautauqua Institution, August 6-12, 2017

Seven Lectures at the Advent Day Apart for Clergy, Baltimore Washington Conference, on the theme: Precursors”, November 16, 2016

“Exit or Voice?”, Harvard Memorial Church, March 22, 2014, and, Asbury First UMC, April 6, 2014

“The Wall of Fame Award”, Nottingham High School, Syracuse, NY, October, 2013

 “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers Induction”, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, April 2013

“Two Kinds of Confidence”, Harvard Memorial Church, February, 2013

“An Embraceable Variant:  John 17:3”, Sermon, Trinity United Methodist Church, Albany, NY, June 2012

“The View from Ellis Island”, Sermon, Concord MA Trinitarian Congregational Church, September 2011

“An Embraceable Variant”, Sermon, New Hartford First UMC, July 2011

“Young Man Jesus “, Sermon, Harvard Memorial Church, Cambridge, MA, January 2011

“Diversity”, RIM Annual Celebration Address, Old South Church, Boston MA, May 2010

“The Embodied Theory-Practice Relationship:  Two Voices on Vocation as Practical Theologian and Pastor” (w/S Cady), Paper Presented, The Association For Practical Theology, Boston, MA,  April 2010

“A Call to the Ministry”, Sermon, Chicago Temple UMC, Chicago ILL, March 2010 

“An Improvisational Gospel”, Conference Sermon, 2009 Baltimore Washington Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Baltimore, June 2009.

“The Day’s Own Trouble”, The Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Commencement Address,  Evanston First UMC,  May 2009.

“Thoughts on Theological Education and Pastoral Excellence”.  The Boston Ministers’ Club Monthly Paper, March 2008.

“Cold Mountain”,“Three Shades Of Joy”,“The Spirit Of Truth: Consecration”, GoodPreacher.com 2008 (an Internet preaching resource that is affiliated with Lectionary Homiletics.)

“Two Kinds of Battles”, Lectionary Homiletics (2008)

“Two Kinds of Christmas”, Lectionary Homiletics (2008)

“Response to Karen Armstrong”.  The Noble Lectures, Harvard Memorial Church, November 15, 2007

Two Kinds of Confidence” Lectionary Homiletics (2007)

“Sermon the Mound”, Foundry United Methodist Church, Washington DC. July 2007

“Our Space:  Toward A Constructive Theology of Common Ground”, Asbury First United Methodist Church, Robert Allan Hill Lecture Series, Rochester NY, May 2007

Abingdon Preacher’s Almanac (2006, 2009). ed. D. Mosser, six sermons.

“Psalms: Hymns of the Heart”, Four Lectures, Grand Island Trinity United Methodist Church, Grand Island, NY, March 2004.

“Theological Education and Church Renewal”, address, St Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, March 2003.

“A Famine of the Word?”, sermon, Bloomington First United Methodist Church, Bloomington, IN, June 2000.

“A Tradition of Principled Resistance”, sermon, San Diego First United Methodist Church, San Diego, January 2000.

Sermon Series at Asbury First, Rochester, NY: Valediction (2006); Empire Spirit (2005); Twilight Gospel (2004); An Addressable Community (2003); Once More to the Lake: (2002); Promise of the Gospel (2001); A Village Green: (2000); The Fruit of the Spirit (1999). 

Voices for a New Day: An Introduction to Homiletics (D. Moore video, Syracuse New York, 1999)

“The New Creation”.  Four Lectures on Galatians.  Western New York Conference Teacher, Houghton College, June 1999

“The Voice of an Angel”, North Central New York Conference Clergy Session, Syracuse, May 1999.

“The Stranger”, sermon, North Central New York Pastors’ School, Watson Homestead, NY, September 1997.

Editorial Page Column: Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, NY), 1997 – 2006.

In the Depths of the Depression (Syracuse: Erwin Publishing, 1993)

The UMC in the 21st Century (Syracuse: Erwin Publishing, 1992)

“Humility”, Circuit Rider Sermon Series, June 1989 (United Methodist Publishing House).

“Signs of Hope in Methodism”, sermon, Syracuse District Clergy Gathering, October 1988

Newsletter: Epworth News: A Quarterly Student Newsletter in the Wesleyan Tradition (NCNY Conference, BHEM, 1985-1989).

A Guide for New Members (Syracuse: Church Center Printing, 1986).

See also: BU Today, 2006-present, various articles and interviews, including pieces on The Gospel of John, on Methodism and Gay People, on the history of Methodism and Boston University, and others. See also: collected sermons and occasional writings, 1998-present at deanhill.blogspot.com, deanhill.huffingtonpost.com and marsh chapel sermon blog

Faculty Types
Faculty and Methodist Faculty