St. Andrew’s Colchester Names the Rev. Dr. Robert K. Leopold Interim Priest
‘Missionally-minded’ Leader Translates Art of Storytelling into Vital Ministry
By Maurice L. Harris
COLCHESTER, Vermont —Demonstrating its commitment to ministry that serves not only church membership but also the community at large, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church recently named the Rev. Dr. Robert K. Leopold, 39, as interim priest. In this half-time role, Leopold will be responsible for spiritual guidance of the decades-old parish as the congregation discerns its future leadership needs. Leopold will begin his new role on Sunday, July 1, presiding at both the 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. worship services.
The appointment of an interim priest is the first stage in an intentional transition process implemented upon the retirement of the former rector, the Rev. Lisette Baxter, in January.
Leopold, who describes himself as “missionally-minded,” expects that his training and experience as an Episcopal clergy leader and professional storyteller will be especially useful in his new role. Leopold holds a doctorate degree in ministry from the University of The South’s School of Theology and is on track to receive a master’s degree in storytelling from East Tennessee State University this fall. Additionally, he has worked as a consultant for the University Episcopal Community in Minneapolis, Minnesota; rector of St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Ottawa, Ontario; and founder of Southside Abbey in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to name just a few career highlights.
Leopold explains, “My interest in storytelling began as a child hearing stories in the oral tradition of Appalachia. As I began studying the art of storytelling and integrating it into my ministry, I realized that it made me a better listener. The ability to listen to St. Andrew’s and the wider community, to interpret how the church factors into what God is already doing in the community, and to frame our story in a compelling way are the unique assets that I hope to bring as interim priest.”
Susyn Dees, St. Andrew’s senior warden, said, “The vestry feels that the Holy Spirit has been by our side in this process. We feel blessed that Bob was available and interested in Interim work as our need for a priest came about. We very much look forward to this next chapter and working with Bob in fulfilling the mission of St. Andrews.”
Although Leopold will be spending much of his time in and around Colchester, he and his wife, Lisa, currently reside in Elmore. They moved there from Ottawa, Ontario, in 2017 when Lisa Leopold accepted a position teaching music at nearby Morristown Elementary School and People’s Academy. Music is a love they both share, Robert Leopold says, as he mentions his early career as an upright bass player gigging across Tennessee. Now happily settled in Vermont, the pair are expecting their first child in October.
In the featured photo: Robert & Lisa Leopold