Bob Reichen is VP of Mission Advancement and Chaplain at the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette. And he has served our organization for more than 11 years. He works to strengthen our Christian principles of love, respect, honesty, responsibility and service, in the communities we serve, and acts as a spiritual guide for all members of our Y family. However, Bob’s journey to the Y is far from traditional—deeply interwoven with God’s loving presence and guiding light.
Bob was working as a pastor at the Sunset Presbyterian Church in Portland when he received his first call from the Y in 2005. Bob Hall, the CEO of the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, was searching to fill the first ever chaplaincy position within our organization, and he wanted to get lunch with Bob.
Hall wanted to share his hopes of reintegrating Christian principles back into the missional work of the Y, and hoped Bob would consider joining the Y and leading these efforts.
Though Bob felt an immediate connection with Hall and his vision for the future of the Y, he couldn’t accept the position—he felt the timing was off.
“I really felt like it was a pretty exciting opportunity, but I felt like I couldn’t leave the church at that particular point, so I turned him down. I thanked him for the lunch and he went off and hired the first Y chaplain.”
Months after this first meeting, Bob found himself continuing to think about the Y. One day, upon returning to his office at the church, a strange feeling came over him. A feeling that told him to give Hall a call.
“I really felt it was God’s presence in my own life that was telling me I had to call him. I wasn’t really sure what it all meant, but I found myself dialing his number.”
Though Hall had already filled the chaplaincy position, he was glad to hear from Bob. And the two made plans to follow up with one another after Hall got back from vacation.
Two weeks later, Bob received a call from Hall—the first words out of Hall’s mouth were, “God works in mysterious ways.”
Hall had come back from his vacation to find a letter of resignation waiting on his desk from the first chaplain he had hired. And he once again offered the chaplain position to Bob. This time, Bob didn’t pass on the opportunity—he immediately accepted and became the second chaplain in our association.
As a chaplain at the Y, Bob sees his role as being similar to a volunteer firefighter, always on-call and ready to provide assistance, support and guidance when needed.
Since joining the Y, Bob has played an integral role in developing our Christian mission. And has even created a Christian principles training session—which introduces new staff members at the Y to our Christian heritage and teaches them how to apply our Christian principles in the programs we offer to the community.
“We have been blessed here at the Y by attracting people to our association who truly have a heart for serving our community, and who want to see society bettered by the services the Y provides. Getting to come alongside and work with these people has enriched my life.”
Bob is thankful to be part of the Y family and looks forward to upholding the “C”—Christian aspect—in the YMCA for many more years to come.
“I hope the YMCA continues to see the high value of serving the holistic aspect of a person and society—being in spirit, mind and body. And that we continue to share, strengthen and promote our Christian history and heritage as a part of the work we do.”
Thank you Bob for sharing our Christian mission at the Y and for being a source of light and strength for all members in our community.