Rev. Robert V. Thompson – Minister Emeritus
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Bob Thompson graduated from Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (Graduate Theological Union) and was ordained an American Baptist minister in 1973. He served American Baptist Churches in Kansas, Ohio, and for 30 years, as Senior Minister of the Lake Street Church in Evanston, Illinois. He retired in November of 2010.
During the 1980’s he became an activist pastor focusing on issues such as homelessness, racial reconciliation and advocacy for LGBT rights. In the 1990’s he became disillusioned with the spiritual constraints of mainstream American Protestantism and embarked on an exploration of several Eastern spiritual traditions and the Christian mystics. Although he continues his spiritually promiscuous ways, he remains loyal to a quote by Thomas Merton, “There is in all things…a hidden wholeness”. Merton’s vision, also reflected in the “garment of mutuality” as expressed by Martin Luther King Jr., prompted Thompson to understand his activism in a new light—not an expression of religious ideology but rather a manifestation of unitive consciousness. This vision led him to embark on a course of interfaith engagement while serving Lake Street Church. From 1999-2004 he also assumed the role of Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In 2010 he was recognized as Chair Emeritus of PWR.
Over the years he has contributed articles to periodicals including The Christian Century, The Chicago Tribune (op-ed), Sound Vision (a Muslim outlet) and others. He is the author of A Voluptuous God: A Christian Heretic Speaks (CopperHouse, 2007), and a contributor to the book for preachers, Feasting On the Word (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011).
In March of 2011 he and his wife Judy Langford moved to Atlanta, Georgia.