Called to the ministryPublished 2:22pm Wednesday, March 14, 2012
St. James Episcopal Church has a new priest, the Rev. Rob Iler.confusion
Iler said he first felt the call to ministry when he was a young boy, but instead pursued a career as a general contractor for 20 years before his wife Betsy encouraged him to follow his calling.
“You might say I spent a lot of years running from God, but the feeling just wouldn’t go away, that I was meant to get involved in ordained ministry,” Iler said. “I became an Episcopalian when I was 27, and the feeling only got stronger all those years. So by the time I was about 40 at the behest of my wife’s encouragement I finally decided to talk to my priest about it and he was very encouraging.”
From there Iler, at age 42, began his college career at Snead State Community College in Boaz, Ala., and then transferred to Athens State University in Athens, Ala., where he earned his degree in religious studies. Then with the approval of the bishop, he went on to The School of Theology at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.
In 2006, Iler became an ordained Episcopalian priest, and then started at his first church in Huntsville, Ala., at St. Columba Episcopal Church.
After ministering there for six years, Iler said he and his family felt the calling to move to another parish.
Now that Iler has made his way to Alexander City, he said he and the people of St. James Episcopal Church are eager to see what God has in store for the church’s future role in the community.
“I feel like we’re going to be blessed here,” Iler said. “The parish just seems to be filled with people waiting and wanting for someone to say, ‘Let’s go forth and do this.’ I really get the sense that everybody is eager and excited about the future and where this church is going to go from here.
“There’s real excitement around the parish, and we don’t know what God has in store for us yet, but we know if we’re just faithful, and keep our hearts open as a community to what God calls us to, we’re sure he will lead us to where we can be of service to God and God’s people.”
With his extensive background in contracting, and a love of woodworking, Iler said he hopes to bring those two things together and form a type of construction ministry for the area.
“I’m hoping to develop a ministry that might reach out to people in the community that might have housing needs and can’t afford to get them fixed,” Iler said. “We had a ministry like that up in Huntsville and it was very successful. We would go in and do repairs … sometimes winterizing the house, do plumbing, electrical safety issues, roofing and things like that. I hope to expand and do some kind of ministry like that for Alexander City.
“But I understand St. James has a great history of outreach, and we certainly plan to continue that and expand it where possible. I feel like my job for the most part is to just help people follow their ministry and passion and connect the two together.”
Iler and his wife have been married for 21 years and they have three children, Robert, 20, Briana, 18, and Jacob, 17, who will attend Benjamin Russell High School in the coming weeks.