While Pastor Bob Anderle is new to the Ridge, he is already beginning to make his mark on the community.
Anderle became the pastor of the Union Church of Bay Ridge in February, 2018, bringing with him a worldly perspective and a boundless energy.
A born-and-raised Midwesterner, Anderle originally went to college in Michigan to become a social worker. When he graduated in 1992, he began his career in Detroit.
Soon, however, Anderle answered a different calling.
“I always considered that a ministry, even then,” Anderle said about social work. Nonetheless, at the urging of people in his life, he soon enrolled in McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He was ordained in 2000 as a minister in the Presbyterian church, and began work at a church on the north side of Chicago.
Most recently, he was the pastor at a church in in the town of Wallkill in Orange County, New York. The opinions of the congregation at the Wallkill church, however, did not line up with his own more progressive values and beliefs.
“It became clear that it was not a match that was meant to last,” he said.
After a self-directed job search, he found his niche right here in Bay Ridge at Union Church on Ridge Boulevard at 80th Street.
On paper, he said, the congregation and the church aligned with his progressive ideology, and during the interview process, he knew that it was a good fit between pastor and congregation.
“It became clear the Holy Spirit had brought us together,”Anderle said.
Now with a congregation of 40, Anderle hopes to revitalize the church and bring in fresh ideas. He moved his family to Bay Ridge and works 20 hours a week part time, as that is what the church can currently afford. He has a deep appreciation for reformed theology, though he says he is willing to question everything as long as it is consistent with guidance of the scriptures.
Elizabeth Theofan, a member of the Union’s Church Council and chair of the committee that hired Anderle, was happy with the work Anderle has done with the church so far.
“He’s into community-type things; he’s getting his feet wet in the neighborhood,” she said. The committee picked him because of his interest in community outreach, as well as his sermon-giving abilities and his writing skills.
In the short time Anderle has been at the church, Theofan said, more people have been coming to services and revenue is up. Anderle has taken care to reach out to parishioners, counseling some, and in one recently widowed woman’s case, calling her each week.
“He seems to me like a very sincere guy in his faith,” Theofan said.
Anderle now lives in the neighborhood with his family, and is becoming accustomed to living in the Ridge. He hopes to engage the community further through his work at the church.
“We love Jesus Christ, and we want Jesus Christ to … bring salvation and redemption to the world,” he said.