The Reverend Rob Herrmann took over pastoral duties for St. John’s United Methodist Church (UMC) and Petaluma UMC effective July 1. The congregations share his services. This is called yoking. It has a long tradition in the Methodist Church. It’s where a single pastor ministers to two or more churches. Herrmann will reside in Rohnert Park at the parsonage adjacent to St. John’s. To facilitate sharing his services, St. John’s moved up Sunday services to 9 a.m. Petaluma UMC pushed theirs’ back. Currently the congregation at St. John’s meets online for services but they are working to implement protocols allowing in person services soon.
Herrmann was born and grew up in the borough of Staten Island in New York City. Graduating high school in 1983, he attended Hunter College in the city before entering the work force. In 1985 he became a tour guide at Radio City Music Hall. He later went into the hospitality business working for hotel chains such as the New York Marriott and the Four Seasons. However, he had other goals in mind such as getting a psychology degree and perhaps becoming a therapist. Coming out to the Bay Area, he resumed his education at City College of San Francisco.
Herrmann has been in the Bay Area for about 16 years now. While here he found his calling. He enrolled at Sacramento State University working as an Office and Teaching Assistant while doing his coursework. In 2012 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies. He continued his education earning a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA in 2019. Concurrent with his studies, Herrmann performed pastoral duties in the Bay Area. Serving as a guest preacher and worship leader at the Park Presidio UMC in San Francisco in 2014 while also serving as the Congregational Administrator at Lake Merritt UMC in Oakland, CA from 2014-2017.
In 2017 he took on Resident Chaplain duties at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. For a year, he provided culturally sensitive support to individuals from various backgrounds. Designated as the chaplain for the ICU and Acute Rehab units, he also took on call shifts for the entire hospital. He provided support to patients, and their families, who had serious or terminal diagnoses. He also provided grief support when patients died, and the bereavement process commenced.
Returning to his UMC duties in 2019, he was the Pastor for Lake Park UMC in Oakland, CA. He remained in that position until Bishop Minerva Carcaño reached out to him to serve the Rohnert Park and Petaluma churches. She presides over the California-Nevada Annual Conference which includes the UMC churches in Sonoma County.
Pastoral duties include more than preparing and delivering sermons on Sundays or holidays. They also involve providing pastoral care to members through visits and phone calls. As a pastor, he provides guidance and opportunities for individual and communal spiritual growth. He encourages and finds opportunities for church members to participate in ministry in the surrounding neighborhood and beyond. We’ve seen that here, in the various faith-based efforts to serve the unsheltered in Rohnert Park.
The United Methodist Church is worldwide in scope. They serve and contribute to missions, health and well-being, education and other service initiatives in other states and countries wherever the need is present. Asked his vision and goals, Herrmann quickly countered it’s not about him, it’s about the vision and goals of the entire congregation. He did say, “I would like to see these churches become more vital.” He continued, “the church needs to be visible,” explaining that means being present whether that is at a community event, a protest march, or fulfilling a community need.
Foundational for him is the idea of a ministry of presence. Having done field education with the San Francisco Night Ministry he developed his view of his role within the church. He described it as “prophetic and pastoral.” He believes “speaking out against oppression as a clergy person, reminds folks that God is on the side of the oppressed,” and “will hold accountable those who seek to diminish any of God’s children.” Part of his pastoral role is reflected in mission work – “helping feed, clothe, and house” those “who society would tell us are unimportant or unworthy.” He said, “We can send a powerful message of God’s love to those on the margins by countering societal judgement and erasure with our love and respect.”
Please join us in welcoming Reverend Herrmann to my church, our city, and Sonoma County.