Trinity Church in Solebury spent nearly two years searching for a rector to fit within the community. In the end, it found and hired the Very Rev. Robert E. “Father Rob” Baldwin.
Originally from Kansas, Baldwin relocated himself and his family to Bucks County to take the job.
Baldwin said he heard about the open position online. It was the first for which he had applied.
The interview process took several months and involved phone and video conferencing interviews as well as in-person visits.
“The shift from the prairies of Kansas to the woods of Bucks County is a big one,” said Baldwin, who has been a priest for more than 20 years but served in only two parishes.
Born in Lakeland Fla., he’s no stranger to traveling.
“I’ve moved all around the country as a child on account of my parents’ work,” said Baldwin, who holds a B.A. in history from Trinity College in Hartford, and a Master of Divinity from Trinity Seminary in Columbus Ohio.
Prior to becoming a priest, Baldwin spent most of his time as a librarian and worked for “several church-related ministries.”
After finding him, Trinity started restoring the rectory office into a home for Baldwin and his family.
“It’s been an office. We just thought, ‘Let’s just switch it back’,” said Warden Julie Loftus. “It’s a little construction. We had to put a kitchen back in and a bathroom.”
Francis Tortorello, project manager, said the biggest challenges “preceded the actual construction work.”
“These included working with the building department to change the legal use for the building from commercial to residential, devolving a budget for approval with a cost conscious vestry, and designing a home within that modest budget,” said Tortorello in an email.
Tortorello stated that the most unique and satisfying aspect of this project is “the fact that a good deal of the work has been done by volunteers,” which isn’t surprising considering how welcoming and supportive Solebury Township has been.
“We really appreciate the fact that Solebury Township worked with us, because this involved changing from an office to a house, so it involved permits and processing and the township was extremely cooperative and very supportive,” said Loftus.
Baldwin has been serving at Trinity as work on the rectory office continues.
“This is a beautiful part of the country and Trinity is a warm, welcoming parish that ministers to both its members and to the greater community,” said Baldwin. “That was a big part of the appeal for me to come here.”
Wardens Loftus and James Wells said they feel Baldwin is a great fit for the community and that the search was worth it.
One of the rector’s goals is to enhance that sense of community and connection both within the parish and within Bucks County.
To that end, efforts are underway to reestablish some outreach programs, such as the “Monthly Peace-meal,” which is open to everyone and to support existing partnerships with nonprofits Fisherman’s Mark and “Mission Philadelphia.”
“The parish also has a rich musical tradition, both within the congregation itself and with the outside musical groups who perform concerts throughout the year to help the church and community,” Baldwin said.
Work on the rectory is set to be finished by early next month.