Just in time for the church’s 106th annual country fair, the Rev. Robert M. Ross, has accepted the call to join Weston’s Emmanuel Episcopal Church as its new rector. He starts Monday, Aug. 27.
Rev. Ross succeeds the Rev. David Feyrer, who retired from Emmanuel in 2010, after eight years of service to the church. The Rev. Robert Hoffman served as Emmanuel’s interim rector after Rev. Feyrer.
Rev. Ross, 61, recently served as chaplain at the Wooster School in Danbury and part-time at St. Matthew’s Church in Wilton.
He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Harvard University’s extension program and a master’s degree in divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary.
Rev. Ross was the rector for several years at St. Peter’s Church in Osterville, Mass., on Cape Cod, where he was also a chaplain for the local fire department. He then served as rector at Trinity Parish in Menlo Park, Calif.
In 2005, Rev. Ross and his wife, Sarah, moved to Connecticut where he became chaplain at the Wooster School.
The appointment of Rev. Ross ends Emmanuel’s nearly two-year long search for a new rector.
A parish search committee for a new rector was formed in November 2010, and in March 2012, the committee officially opened the position up to Episcopal clergy job boards, according to David Juneau, the senior warden at Emmanuel.
Applicants sent their information to the diocese, and in April the diocese presented the search committee with a list of candidates from several regions of the U.S. who expressed interest.
The search committee conducted interviews both in person and over Skype, and then presented a short list to the Emmanuel vestry board, who then conducted more interviews with the shorter list of candidates.
“After much prayer and thought and coordination with the diocese of Connecticut, we finally decided to ‘call’ the Rev. Rob Ross to Emmanuel,” said Mr. Juneau.
Rev. Ross has a wide variety of interests and is a man who is used to wearing “many hats.”
He enjoys tennis and likes to play, collect and repair guitars.
Born in Winchester, Mass., into a Roman Catholic family, Rev. Ross was interested in religion as a young boy, but not so much with the Catholic church. A friend brought him to a local Episcopal Church where the youth group listened to music and that appealed to him, so he converted to the Episcopalian faith. “The music spoke to me in my natural language,” Rev. Ross said in a recent interview.
When he met his wife, Sarah, they discussed the possibility of him being a priest on their very first date, which he still finds amusing.
It was a long process for him to become ordained in the Episcopal Church and he spent a year working as a youth minister before a rector would sponsor him. After he was sponsored, he went to the Virginia Seminary. While there, the couple’s first child, Benjamin, was born, followed two years later by the couple’s second son, Matthew.
When Rev. Ross got called to the Wooster School in Danbury, he said he really got to use his talents, not only as the school’s chaplain but also by teaching music and religion and public policy courses.
“I fell in love with Wooster, it’s a beautiful campus and I loved the kids,” Rev. Ross said.
He then decided to leave academic life and return to parish ministry. After meeting with the search committee members at Emmanuel he felt it was “a great fit.”
Although Rev. Ross lives in New Milford, he said he will be on call at Emmanuel 24/7 and he looks forward to Emmanuel’s upcoming country fair on Saturday, Sept. 15.
“One of my goals at Emmanuel will be to rebuild the youth program. I’m ready to move forward,” he said.
Mr. Juneau said Bishop Curry of the diocese gave Rev. Ross’s call his blessing. “This coming together is the result of much prayer and discernment by many people: The Emmanuel parish as a whole, the bishops and diocesan leadership for priests in transition, and finally the many qualified candidates we were fortunate to meet. Ultimately, we felt strongly that our next rector should be Rob Ross,” Mr. Juneau said.