Tribute to the Rev. Robert G. MacIntyre

Robert G. (Bob) MacIntyre, whose good spirit was matched by a good heart, said his greatest regret was not entering pastoral ministry as soon as he could. But divine providence being what it is, God wove threads together so that Bob’s gifts and God’s desire for both the Olivet United Presbyterian Church and Lehigh Presbytery were in rhythm. For that, to God alone goes the glory.

A native of Kingston, Pennsylvania, in Luzerne County and Lackawanna Presbytery, Bob’s roots in the church were deep, but not entirely traditional. The church he called home, Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston, was a federated church between the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ. This exposure to two compatible but different understandings of God and church left a lifelong impression on Bob, one to which he would often refer. He was heavily involved in that congregation, serving on a number of committees that would prepare him for later pastoral ministry, but it is safe to say that none of these meant any more to him than his service as an advisor to the Youth Fellowship.

After graduating from Wilkes College, Bob worked as a project design engineer in satellite communications at the Tobyhanna Army Depot for twelve years. Although he later regretted not entering seminary after his college education, this engineering experience not only gave him valuable skills for his future ministry, but taught him important life lessons which he was quick to share. In 1995 he heeded God’s call, entering Princeton Theological Seminary, thoroughly enjoying his time there, and contributing to the life of that community in a variety of ways. In particular he was involved in seminary stewardship, student representative to the department of Practical Theology, and frequent chair of hunger-related activities. He received his Master’s of Divinity in May 1998, and was ordained in Lackawanna Presbytery in October of that year. His ministry at the Olivet United Church began on September 20, 1998. He became the eighth installed pastor in the 112-year history of the Olivet United Presbyterian Church.

This has been a full ministry, and many of the threads  from his past were woven into his Olivet and Lehigh Presbytery experience. He served on the Boards of ProJeCt, Safe Harbor, Wee Care Day Care, Crop Walk,  the Interfaith Council and Habitat for Humanity. He was also president of the Board of Trustees of the Lehigh Presbytery from 2005-2011 and member of the Camp and Conference Committee since 1999, including a valuable role in the camp futuring discussions.

Bob personified the best of “hail fellow well met,” at ease in conversation with anyone, quick to share a laugh, and keen to show his care and concern. This spilled over into his commitment to Jesus Christ, for his conversations easily turned to his faith, a faith he took seriously but held lightly, aware that the  mysteries of God remain beyond us. This care and concern included even those who did not share his evangelical beliefs, or even Christian faith. Even as he was quick to give candy to his Muslim neighbors in his apartment building, he was just as quick, and even more grateful, to accept their prayers.

Those prayers were needed all the more beginning in early 2011, when a series of unexplained health concerns were determined to be signs of life-threatening cancer. In the Gospel of John, Jesus suggests that in Lazarus’ illness and death God’s glory is to be revealed. In the blog he posted to share his situation with the congregation, Bob wrote

“While it might be easy to take a pollyannish view of things or it might be easy to focus on the negative, I choose instead to recall to whom I belong.  While treatments might be a big part of my story in the weeks to come, I refuse to let them be what defines me.

“Rise up, come to our help.  Redeem us for
the sake of your steadfast love.” [Psalm 44:26]  …

I see in these few brief words a reminder of where our help comes from ….  As I face whatever lies before me, I do so assured of the steadfast love that God has for me, a love revealed in the life, death, resurrection, ascension and the promised return of Jesus Christ.”

As his mother Gladys, brother Jim, cousins Sue, Jeff, and Jay, nieces Aarika and Kara, and all the saints of the Olivet United Presbyterian Church remain in our prayers, let us also give thanks to God for one whose faithfulness embodied his life and ministry. If our charge is to teach believers with our lives, then to Bob through the Spirit we say,

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”


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