Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and raised in Texas, Dr. Robert Lee Hill is a nonfiction writer, poet, and community consultant for non-profit organizations focusing on social justice issues, particularly the increase of community engagement regarding quality education for all students, empowering citizens through voter registration, and quality health care for all.
Previously he served for more than 30 years at the Community Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kansas City, Missouri, before moving into semi-retirement and being named Minister Emeritus in 2015.
Before arriving at Community in 1985, Dr. Hill served as Special Projects Director and Co-Director of Project Return, Inc., a non-profit agency working with ex-prisoners and their families in Nashville, Tennessee.
Prior to his undergraduate and graduate studies, Dr. Hill was a Conscientious Objector during the war in Vietnam and served for two years as a Youth and Family Worker at All Peoples Christian Center in south central Los Angeles. He was ordained at All Peoples Christian Church, in Los Angeles, California, on August 2, 1981.
Hill holds three degrees: a B.A. degree from Texas Christian University (1977), an M.Div. degree from Vanderbilt University Divinity School (1980), and a D.D. degree from Christian Theological Seminary (2000). He has spoken as a keynoter, lecturer, and guest preacher at assemblies, seminars, retreats, regional and national conferences, seminaries, and worship services across the United States, including ecumenical and interfaith venues for Disciple, A.M.E., Baptist, Catholic, Churches of Christ, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Unitarian, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, Muslim, and Jewish gatherings.
Dr. Hill serves the wider community in the greater Kansas City area as a board member for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Jewish Vocational Services, and the GKC Chapter of Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was a founding Co-Chair (with Rev. Eric Belt) of the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2), serving in that capacity from 2004 until 2009. He also served as a Co-Chair of MORE2’s Clergy Caucus from 2010 until 2015. Since 1991, he has been the Co-Chair of the Greater Kansas City Martin Luther King Interfaith Worship Celebration.
In the past, Dr. Hill has served as Chairperson of The Council of Mayors’ Metropolitan Human Relations Commission (1992-1996), Co-Founder (with Dr. K. David Cole) of the noted “C.O.L.O.R.’s” program (“Christians Offering Love to Overcome Racism”), and Co-Chair of “Compassion Sabbath” for The Center for Practical Bioethics (formerly The Midwest Bioethics Center), and on the boards of Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care, the Second Chance Foundation, and the Institute for Spirituality in Health. Since 1993, Dr. Hill has been a co-host of the renowned, weekly Sunday morning radio call-in show, “Religion on the Line,” on KCMO-Talk Radio 710AM.
Nationally, Dr. Hill serves on the Board of Director of the Soul Repair Center (housed at Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth, Texas), and for 15 years served on the Board of Directors for The Vanderbilt Disciples Divinity House. He is now in his 19th year of service with the Bethany Fellows Leadership Team, as he continues to work with younger pastors in their first calls.
Within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination, Dr. Hill has served on the boards and committees of numerous organizations, including: Christian Church Foundation, National City Christian Church Foundation, Week of Compassion Committee, General Nominating Committee, Woodhaven Learning Center, Greater Kansas City Disciples Peace Fellowship, Greater Kansas City Disciples Ministers Association.
Hill’s awards and recognitions include:
· 50 Missourians You Should Know – 2018 – Ingram’s Magazine, Kansas City, Missouri (2018)
· John Wandless “Thank You” Award – Urban Ranger Corps, Kansas City, Missouri (2016)
· Donald Gilmore Community Service Award– Kansas City Boys Choir/Kansas City Girls Choir, Kansas City, Missouri (2016)
· Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat Honoree– Kansas City Royals, Kansas City, Missouri (2016)
· Bonnie Sturner Leadership Award, Metro Organization for Racial & Economic Equity (MORE2), Kansas City, Missouri (2015)
· 100 Most Influential Kansas Citians for 2015 and Lifetime Honoree, “Society of Influentials,” The Kansas City Globe (2015)
· Justice Award, Jewish Community Relations Bureau-American Jewish Committee, Kansas City, Missouri (2014)
· Metro Clergy Recognition, Memorial Church International and the RMC Group, Kansas City, Missouri (2013)
· The Invictus Award for Social Justice from The Liberty, Missouri M.L. King Jr. Committee (2012)
· The Rachel E. Neely Lifetime Achievement Award from the Multiracial Family Circle (2010)
· The Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat Honoree from the Kansas City Royals (2009)
· The Inaugural “Steve Jeffers Interfaith Leadership Award” from the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (2008)
· The Harold L. Holliday, Sr., Civil Rights Award from the NAACP of Kansas City, Missouri (2008)
· The Daniel L. Brenner Interfaith Award from Harmony-National Conference for Community and Justice (2006)
· The Vision to Action Award from The Midwest Bioethics Center (now Center for Practical Bioethics) (2004)
· The Evelyn Wasserstrom Award from The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of GKC(1999)
· “North American Ministerial Fellowship” from the Rockefeller Foundation (now known as The Fund for Theological Education)
In 2001, Dr. Hill and Community Christian Church were among the first grant recipients of the Lilly Endowment’s “National Clergy Renewal Program.” In 2006, Community received a five-year grant from the Lilly Endowment to train newly graduated, newly ordained clergy in “best practices” through a newly created Transition Into Ministry “Clergy Residency Program,” and in 2010, received a renewal grant from the Lilly Endowment to continue their renowned program.
Dr. Hill is the author of the newly released All You Need Is More Love (2019) and the author and/or editor of the following books: Life’s Too Short For Anything But Love (2015), The Color of Sabbath (2007), Romans: An Introductory Study Guide (2007), So Great A Cloud of Witnesses (co-editor with Amy Lignitz Harken) (2005), Made Whole Again … By Broken Bread (2004, 1989), Hard To Tell: A Congregation of Poems: 1990-2003 (2003), Empowering Congregations: Successful Strategies for 21st Century Leadership (co-author with Denton L. Roberts) (2003), We Make the Road By Walking (2001), Fellowship of Prayer: Lenten Devotional(1989). He is currently in a search for a publisher for his forthcoming manuscript, Great Souls, Great Prayers, the first volume of a planned five-volume work.
He is married to Priscilla Reckling, and they live in the Brookside neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri.