+Robert Cook: Coming Alongside as Bishop

AMIA Communications

“I love people,” says +Robert Cook. “I love seeing people come alive and be who God’s made them to be in the midst of all the challenges.” And in his role of bishop in the AMiA, he does just that.

+Robert grew up as an Episcopalian and was familiar with the liturgy from an early age. After college he went to a Presbyterian seminary and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination in which he served for the better part of two decades. Though Anglicanism wasn’t on his radar when he was seeking a senior pastor role, when St. Andrew’s Church in Little Rock pursued him, he found he’d come full circle. “The richness of the liturgy was like coming home,” +Robert recalls.

Since +Robert had already been ordained as a minister for nearly 20 years when he came to the AMiA, his ordination process was faster than most. He was ordained first as a deacon in the AMiA, and six months later a priest. He never anticipated becoming a bishop over a decade after joining the church.

In 2022, +Robert received a call from Alan+ Hughes, the AMiA’s Director of Leadership Development. During a subsequent visit to St. Andrew’s, Alan+ shared with +Robert that the AMiA’s leadership team was considering him for the role of bishop in the mission. “I’d never thought of that … It wasn’t something that I was aspiring to.” +Robert recalls. “They’d seen different gifts in me and so forth, and just wanted to pursue me to see if I sensed the Lord confirming that as well.”

Over the course of about two years, +Robert participated in a discernment process, praying and talking with Alan+ as well as others on the AMiA leadership team. He also took two silents retreats to spend time with the Lord and pray. “We took a long, extended time just to seek the Lord,” +Robert says, asking questions such as “Is this really your calling for my life?” and “What does that mean?” Through this process, the Lord confirmed that he was to continue to walk in the direction of bishop.

Following the discernment process, +Robert underwent a 360-degree evaluation through which he received feedback from 10 people who knew him well. “It was very, very helpful for me,” says +Robert, “to make sure I’m walking in my calling … but also see areas where I can grow.”

+Robert was grateful for the long path to becoming a bishop. “It was really good and healthy, I think, to have a two-year process of prayer and discernment.” As a result, he encourages others going through the ordination process, “Don’t rush anything. Listen to the Lord and let him lead in his timing, and be open to hearing from the Lord and hearing from others who know you well.”

In February 2024, at Live the Mission at St. Andrew’s, +Robert was consecrated as a bishop. In this role, he spends about 80% of his ministry time serving at the rector of St. Andrew’s, and the remaining time for the AMiA. Though he’s had to offload a few tasks at the church in light of his new responsibilities, his role at St. Andrew’s has remained largely unchanged.

In that remaining 20%, +Robert assists Lead Bishop +Philip Jones, and other clergy in the mission, seeking to be an encouragement and advocate. “I’m trying to be someone who helps them walk through struggles in their areas of ministry, at their churches … someone to come along and help grow and develop them to thrive in a greater way as God’s called them.” As a bishop, he’s able to support AMiA clergy in a greater way than he could as a priest—for example, doing confirmations when +Philip or +Sandy Greene isn’t available.

It’s a role with numerous faces, and +Robert encourages others in the mission to pray for capacity for him and other bishops, as well as “ears to hear from the Lord, to not neglect being still in the Lord’s presence.” He also asks for prayer for protection. “The enemy is very crafty. … Whether it be in a person’s life, in ministry, or a church’s season of life, when we see the Lord moving in mighty ways, the enemy is often at hand to disrupt.”

But +Robert remains enthusiastic about what the Lord is doing and the opportunity to be part of his work in others’ lives. “I’m most excited about getting to know the other clergy in the mission. That is my heart. I love people. I’ve had many, many people pour into my life over the years in ministry, and it’s been an amazing blessing. But I want to give that out to others. I want to come alongside.”