The Reverend Robert Charles Prior, 83 years, of Rising Sun, MD, passed away Monday, July 19, 2021 at home. Born April 8, 1938 in Brooklyn, NY, he was the son of the late William D. and Lillian Jasper Prior.
Bob graduated from Rutgers University in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science degree and from Princeton Theological Seminary of Princeton, NJ, in 1968 with a Master of Divinity degree. Following graduation, he married Susan Schermerhorn in Morrisville, PA, on July 13, 1963.
Bob went to serve his first church as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittston, PA, from 1963-1966. It was in Pittston where his first son, Scott, was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In1967, he moved his family to Philadelphia to serve his second church as Pastor of the Covenant Presbyterian Church in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, PA, from 1966-1971. It was in Philadelphia his second child, Matthew Andrew, was born. Covenant Presbyterian Church was a church that committed itself to being an inclusive congregation serving and reflecting the community in which it existed.
Following five years in Philadelphia, Bob was installed as Pastor of the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church of Colora, MD, on June 27, 1971. It was in Colora where Bob’s third son, Jason, was born in Wilmington, DE. From conducting short children’s sermons during the regular Sunday worship services to leading the Youth Group in Bible study and conducting worship services at Calvert Manor Healthcare Center, Bob reached out throughout the community to people of all ages. He was active in promoting diversity and working to eliminate racism and homelessness.
Bob faithfully conducted Sunday worship services, as well as a candlelight Christmas Eve service each year. He taught Vacation Bible School every summer where he taught older children in the morning and took them fishing in the afternoon. He led Bible studies and group discussions with the Youth Group. It was during West Nottingham Presbyterian Church’s 275th anniversary that Bob conducted a service typical of the 18th century where he and many members wore 18th century costumes.
During Bob’s time as Pastor of West Nottingham Presbyterian Church, Meals-on-Wheels was introduced through the Deacons, and Childcare was organized through Christian Education.
In all the places Bob served, he was active in the community, presbytery, and synod activities. Presbytery activities included: the Working Group Against Racism, the Speer Trust as chair and member, the Peacemaking Committee as chair and member, the Mission Committee as chair and member, and the General Council of New Castle Presbytery. Synod activities included: the Peacemaking Committee, the General Council of Synod, and the moderator of Synod of the Piedmont in 1987. Community activities included: working with the homeless and board of social services, disaster assistance, Pacem in Terris of Wilmington, DE, and 13 years as volunteer chaplain of Northern Chesapeake Hospice.
Bob was a member of the Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster (VOAD). Participation here led to West Nottingham Presbyterian Church being added to the Red Cross list of potential disaster shelters and running several shelters, as well as several members, including Bob, taking disaster training.
Bob was active in Project Impact; a committee concerned with disasters. Bob encouraged the Youth Group to participate in Elkton’s Homeless Walk to draw attention to homelessness. He was active in the Men’s Shelter in Elkton. He was also active in the Bio-Ethics Committee of Union Hospital Diversity Workshops. Bob also was active in the Adopt-a-Highway program.
Bob considered one of the highlights of his ministry establishing a partnership between New Castle Presbytery and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which meant traveling to the Congo and hosting visitors from the Congo to the presbytery. In all his activities, his hope was to share his concern for justice, God’s love and compassion in Jesus Christ, and peacemaking.
Bob retired in 2003 as Pastor Emeritus of the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church of Colora, MD, where he served as Pastor from 1971-2003.
Bob and Susan are treasured members of the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church family. Both have reflected more than 30 years of showing God’s love for His world.
Bob is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Susan Schermerhorn Prior; sons, Robert Scott, Matthew Andrew (Christine), and Jason Christopher (Tina); three grandchildren (Michael, Jeannie, and Lilly); and his faithful dog companion (Jasmine). In addition to his parents, Bob was preceded in death by his brothers (William and Arthur).
A Memorial Service has been scheduled for Saturday, July 31, 2021, 11:00 a.m., the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church of Colora, MD, with visitation at 10:00 a.m. The Reverend Kristin Reinhold, Pastor, and The Reverend Laurel Loveless will officiate. Interment will be private. Masks are required.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church in care of Lee A. Patterson & Son Funeral Home, P.A., P.O Box 766, Perryville, MD 21903-0766.
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