Rob hails from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley where as a young evangelical he checked-off many of the suggested boxes: a) have Jerry Falwell sign your Bible, b) listen to Tony Campolo preach, c) sway at an Amy Grant concert, d) lead a neighborhood vacation bible school, e) attend a Billy Graham Crusade, and f) meet Chuck Colson, Carl F. H. Henry and John Stott.
Later came new experiences influenced by Sojourners-types: a) praying with people of faith in Gaza, Guatemala, South Korea and South Africa, b) marching on Washington for affordable housing , c) reading second-hand Sojourners magazines, d) frequenting the Chautauqua Institution, e) integrating his block on the Southside of Chicago and f) discovering his parents attended The Church of the Savior in D.C. a few times in the late 1950s.
Fifteen years ago, the chaplain at the University of Chicago (where Rob was fundraising and completing his Ph.D. under Martin Marty ) asked him to serve as the official Chicago book tour respondent to "an exciting public intellectual and activist." Rob will never forget the audience's reaction of gratitude toward Jim Wallis as he spoke that night on The Soul of Politics.
This spiritual journey makes some wonder what took Rob so long in coming to Sojourners, having served as a seminary and college vice president for the past decade. As for avocations, Rob holds a private pilot's license, writes country songs on the piano, loves Monty Python and novelist Iris Murdoch, and has been preaching since age 15. His wife, Juli Wilson-Black, is an ordained Presbyterian minister, and children Hannah (9), Claire (6) and Owen (2) keep him busy playing ball. They live in the wonderful planned community of Reston, Va., a 1960s attempt at the communitarian life writ large, sort of.