Celebrating Rev. Hardies

Rev. Robert Hardies, who served as senior minister at All Souls since 2001, moved on to the next stage of his life and career in June 2020. You can watch our Ritual of Gratitude and Love here.

Did you know these facts about Rev. Hardies' time at All Souls?

When he was called by the search committee, Rob was all of 29 years old!

Rob had barely unpacked when the US was attacked by terrorists on September 11. He and a group of volunteers opened the church doors that night and held a service for hundreds of stunned mourners.

His second Sunday in the pulpit as senior minister was September 16, preaching a transformational message of comfort to the hundreds who gathered.

In December that year, there were 468 members on the rolls, 314 of whom were voting members. Today there are over 1300 enrolled members, and almost 900 voting members.

In March 2003, to minister to a rapidly growing congregation, Rev. Shana Lyngood was called as the first associate minister during Rob’s tenure.

Rob’s prophetic preaching and an inspiring music program soon packed the pews on Sundays.

In 2004, with membership going from 400 to 700 and RE classes filling up, two more fulltime staff were hired: Gabrielle Farrell in religious education and Louise Green in social justice.

In 2005, All Souls was recognized as a Breakthrough Congregation at UUA General Assembly for its focus on growth and engagement of lay leadership.

In 2006, All Souls sponsored its first multi-generational service/learning trip to post-Katrina New Orleans.

In 2006, Rob launched the first Coming of Age trip to Boston and the roots of Unitarian Universalism in America.

The congregation moved to two services in September 2007, despite concerns about splitting congregants into two groups, not to mention pushing choirs, musicians, staff, and preachers to conduct two services each Sunday.

In 2007, Rev. Rob took his first sabbatical from January to August, researching Unitarian history, as a foundation for his Doctorate of Ministry dissertation (completed in 2010).

In 2007, the Silver Souls curated and produced “Ministers’ Journey to Social Justice,” an exhibit of All Souls leadership over the previous 186 years.

In 2008, All Souls set up a volunteer-driven English as a Second Language program to respond to the needs of the neighborhood’s immigrant community.

In 2009, Katie Loughary was appointed as the first executive director to establish administrative, financial, and communications systems, to secure a solid infrastructure to catch up with the church’s explosive growth.

Rob spearheaded efforts for marriage equality and LGBTQ rights alongside a multi-racial council of some 200 church leaders. Their activism culminated in 2009 with Mayor Adrian Fenty signing DC’s Marriage Equality Act into law in the All Souls sanctuary.

First a backward glance: Rev. Rob grew up Presbyterian in Rochester, NY. He graduated from Cornell University and Starr King School of Ministry. When he came to All Souls in 2001, the pulpit had been vacant for three years and the congregation had drastically decreased in size.

While the church was still a manageable size, Rob led a Blessing of the Animals service in the summers—well behaved pets were welcome! (dogs on the left, cats on the right, assorted others wherever…).

Rev. Rob added his own touch to baby dedications carrying each (willing) baby back and forth in the main aisle, blessing them with a flame, a rose, involving children from RE, and leading a responsive reading.

All Souls’ popular Weekend on the Bay was instituted and continues to be a standout event for All Souls families.

Rev. Rob instituted a Questions of Faith service for his return to the pulpit each year in late August, in which he answered questions—off the cuff–from the congregation.

All Souls, under Rev. Rob’s leadership and that of Jen Hayman, Director of Music and Arts, has developed a rich tradition of innovative creative arts events. Examples include past Sacred Spaces and Prism concerts, Akoma Drummers, wildly diverse music and musicians, even a special concert to honor the Jacob Lawrence paintings that were on loan to All Souls for one day.

In August 2010, Rob led a church delegation to Hiroshima launching our Heiwa Peace Project to reunite a set of Japanese children’s drawings with their artists (now in their 70s) and to exhibit them in the very building where they were created in 1947. The trip and the pictures were the subject of a feature length documentary, “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.”

Besides Japan, Rob has led pilgrimages to Assisi in Italy, part of the Camino de Compostela in France, and the terminal point of the Camino in Spain.

Rev. Rob also developed and led several Coming of Age Youth groups on a pilgrimage to Boston and surrounding UU sites; in 2019 he led a group of adults over the same UU history, which included a walk around Walden Pond.

All Souls launched a Capital Campaign in February 2012, after two years of planning by the Capital Assets Planning Team. The campaign exceeded all expectations, raising upwards of $8 million to finance major renovations to the church that we enjoy today.

Rob’s prophetic ministry and example in leading a beloved community has inspired at least 20 All Souls members to enter the ministry.

Trips to New Orleans post-Katrina, The Reeb Project, the Sanctuary Movement…

Countless All Souls initiatives, events, and justice activities are reflective of Rob’s vision and have resulted in the beloved community we cherish today.