Rev. Robert Van Ess has worked as an Associate Pastor, Senior Pastor, and a Chaplin for a hospital. Pastor Rob recently completed a 3-year term serving on the Missouri Mid-South Conference (MMSC) of the United Church of Christ (UCC) Governing Council, serving as Co-chair of the MMSC Justice and Witness Covenanted Ministry, as a delegate for the UCC Synod in 2019 and 2021, as a delegate with Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope (an interfaith organization focused on local justice issues), and as a community partner with Love Doesn’t Hurt (a support organization for LGBT victims of domestic violence to provide emergency shelter, transportation, food, clothing, and relocation).
Pastor Rob attended Eden Theological Seminary after enjoying 20 years as a hairdresser. He was awarded the honor of being named the William R Johnson scholar for 2 years while attending seminary. Pastor Rob also studied the effects of global interfaith pluralism and Christianity in a minority context while completing a travel seminar to Southern India in 2010.
Having studied English Literature early in his academic career and Judaic Studies later on Pastor Rob found a passion for making the local church relevant in the real world. While serving the local church he has studied with Convergence, formerly known as The Center for Progressive Renewal, reshaping organizations, congregations and leaders engaged in an age of movement from “organized religion” to “organizing religion” driven by the values of an inclusive, progressive theological vision for a more just world for all.
Serving as a clinically trained chaplain with The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy at The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, AR, Pastor Rob enjoyed working with the Palliative Care Team serving the UAMS Health -Myeloma Center within the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.
Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Pastor Rob has lived in Seattle, WA, Tulsa, OK, Memphis, TN, St. Louis, MO, and Elkhart, IN. In his free time Pastor Rob enjoys painting nonrepresentational art with acrylics, hiking, and reading everything from politics to science fiction to biographies. Pastor Rob and his husband Nicky Banks will be celebrating 19 years together in 2022, with their two cats, Dee Dee and Dexter.