Dr. Robert Bohl
We continue with the history of the pastors of our church by considering the fourth pastor in our church’s 100 year history, Dr. Robert W. Bohl. Dr. Bohl came to Ardmore in 1977 after a ten-year pastorate at nearby Trinity Presbyterian in Berwyn. He was born in Chattanooga, Oklahoma in 1937 and attended the School of the Ozarks and Princeton Seminary, where he graduated in 1961. An academic scholar, Dr. Bohl went on to complete his masters and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for study in France . Prior to his first pastorate, he held teaching positions at Ursinus College and Temple University.
Dr. Bohl arrived at Ardmore with his wife, Judy, and two daughters, Angela and Beverly. He continued in the tradition of his predecessors with strong preaching and inspirational teaching. Dr. Bohl’s ministry was characterized by his interest in the church’s mission to the community at large. He served on a number of boards of local and national service organizations, including the Upper Main Line YMCA, Presbyterian Hospital, and the Pearl Buck Foundation. While at Ardmore he helped create the Hunger Task Force, directing the congregation’s attention to the needs of the poor and hungry locally and world-wide. Dr. Bohl was also a leader in the denomination, holding positions in Presbytery and General Assembly Committees in the areas of mission, ecumenical affairs, and theology.
In 1980, after serving only three years at Ardmore, Dr. Bohl accepted a call to become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Ft. Worth, Texas. In his letter to the congregation Dr. Bohl said his decision to leave was “a most agonizing one and very difficult to make,” but one that he took to pursue “a larger opportunity for ministry to and for the church of Jesus Christ.”
Dr. Bohl’s short tenure with us can be best explained by the events going on in our denomination at that time. When Dr. Bohl left for Ft. Worth, that Presbyterian church was still in a different denomination than ours. The Northern and Southern Presbyterian churches had been separate since the civil war, when they split over the issue of slavery. By 1980, the two denominations were finally on the verge of reunion, which would officially occur in 1983. Dr. Bohl’s background as a Northern Presbyterian pastor with personal roots in the Southwest, enhanced his standing as a national leader in the reunified church.
After leaving Ardmore Dr. Bohl’s ministry did take on a national scale. In 1993 Dr. Bohl served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Later he became pastor of the 5,000 member Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. He also served as chairman of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, before his retirement in 2002.