by Matt Mueller-Curson
An ongoing series spotlighting the amazing individuals who make up the “we” in We Are All Saints.
Parishioners at All Saints love to read. They love words and enjoy savoring them in search of a little extra meaning and contemplative kick — and Bob Shull loves to be the purveyor of words to many in the church. If you’ve been around All Saints for a while you know him by sight.
You’ve passed by his table in front of Regas House on the quad, resplendent with printed transcripts of sermons and Rector’s Forums – both recent and from the distant past – all of which were transcribed by Bob.
Bob came to All Saints in the early 1980’s – searching, like most of us, for a welcoming and forward-thinking place to worship. He was instantly impressed with the high level of inclusiveness and quickly adapted to the church’s liturgical ceremony despite his Adventist background. Because of some shakeups in his family life, Bob took a hiatus from All Saints for a few years in the mid 80’s, but he returned shortly after Ed Bacon began his tenure as Rector in 1995.
Bob’s son Steven, at the tender age of 6, expressed a strong desire to be involved in the kids program at ASC and what father can say no to a child who WANTS to go to church! While Steven did participate with the youth at All Saints, Bob fondly remembers his son actually skipping Sunday School to sit with his dad and listen to the sermons and forum talks.
Bob first began serving the church after years of attending when the call went out for help with the Sermon Tape Ministry. For years ASC had provided audio cassette tapes of every Sunday sermon for folks who either needed to get caught up or wanted to review something that had struck them from the pulpit. And so, Bob took on running the Tape Table, as most folks still call it today.
It wasn’t until Ed Bacon’s sermon directly following the tragedy on September 11, 2001, that there was a call for a sermon to be transcribed so people could read it, and sit with it, and take some time to reap comfort from it. Bob turned that sermon into text, made it available the next Sunday, and the response was overwhelming. So began the era of Bob transcribing all the Sunday sermons, and later, the Rector’s Forums.
He also delved back into the archives and did the same for classic sermons and talks — recorded years before — that had altered, in ways big and small, the course of All Saints’ mission and ministry. He has given us, in this way, many “chapters” in the written history of our church. Week after week, writing out the sermons and Forum discussions is a labor of love, and Bob is incredibly fond of the task and revels in the opportunity to review each sermon and talk — and, with each listening, find new meaning and understanding that he hadn’t gleaned the time before.
He has one more passion as well. It is also his generous heart that has been supplying hard boiled eggs on the lawn on Sunday mornings for longer than most people can remember. Every week Bob – now with the help of a few friends – boils, peels and provides as many as 90 eggs to provide some early morning protein for our less-fortunate friends!
I asked Bob how he came to serve ASC in these ways. He replied that he just listened and when opportunity presented itself, he stepped forward. His weekly work at the Tape Table led him to see the need for more nutritious items at the snack table, for both hungry morning guests from the neighborhood and ASC members alike – thus the boiled eggs.
For those looking for ways to get involved at All Saints, Bob recommends just talking to people, listening, and being patient – the opportunity will arise. And if you see a need, perhaps it’s up to you to fill it. Thanks Bob – for the eggs, the sermons – and the dedication that comes from your generous heart!