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Willow Street’s minister grew up in the church


The Rev. Ann Facen first identified Angela Robinson, a youth at Hannibal’s Willow Street Christian Church, as having a call to the ministry.

Now, nearly four decades later, Rev. Angela Robinson Williams fills the same pulpit that Rev. Facen did during the 1980s, as minister of the Disciples of Christ congregation. Willow Street Christian Church, originally Second Christian Church, has deep roots in Hannibal; the congregation recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.

After graduating from high school, Rev. Williams began her undergraduate education at Columbia College. She graduated from Central Methodist College at Fayette.

In 1991, she affiliated with the Fifth Street Christian Church in Columbia, taking on a leadership role. There, in addition to other duties, she conducted youth camps and Sunday school classes.

“I completed college, got married, then went back to school to get my master’s degree,” at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, she said.

After obtaining her master’s degree in ministry, Rev. Williams was ordained into the Christian Ministry at a ceremony conducted by the Mid-America Region, consisting of Willow Street Christian Church, Fifth Street Christian Church and Montgomery City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on Aug. 19, 2023.

She ministered at Montgomery City while working on her master’s degree. When she learned of the opening in Hannibal, she decided to apply.

“There was a conversation about Rev. Minnie Smith retiring, and who would come to lead the church. I put my resume in the hat, interviewed in person, and was selected. I am a fifth generation Disciples of Christ member; I feel most at home in this church.”

In June 2024, she will start her doctorate studies at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa. Her course requirements will require her to attend in-person classes one week of each season, and the remainder of her coursework will be done remotely. The expected time-frame for completion is 3 1/2 years.

In addition to her ministry, she works for the MBS Textbook Exchange, and works as an anti racism pro reconciliation justice ministry coordinator for Mid America Disciples.

Her goal at Willow Street “is to continue a community outreach in a church that welcomes everyone, regardless what condition they find themselves. Every one who comes there finds themself welcome, coming to worship with us. Not restricted.”

Since beginning her ministry in Hannibal, she has seen participation growing. “We have more people online than in seat, she said. “In seat, we have 25-30 on a given Sunday. As soon as the service is over, I check the online numbers; 80 people have viewed the services. In the last couple of Sundays, we’ve had 200.” Her goal is to engage online people to get them more involved in the ministry.

Since she has been at Willow Street, she had conducted five baptisms; and five more are scheduled for June.

Rev. Williams said that Joe Miller, church elder, calls her a “home grown tomato.

“I have an established connection. But there is a change in the dynamic. I’m no longer that child that they nurtured and helped grow. Now they see me as an adult leader that can give guidance and, who will give a Word that they can understand. Everyone has a voice, I’m trying to get everyone involved.”

Technology is one component that is helping with that goal.

“We have Wednesday night Bible study via Zoom,” she said. 

“We are able to bring in other people connected with Zoom. I’ve had nothing but compliments from them being able to participate in this way.”

She also said that the church elders are active participants in the Bible study interaction.

“They are studied and come ready to share information and have discussions. All the different generations in the study can come together in the discussion and the light bulb comes on. We are having a wonderful time.”

Rev. Williams typically leads the Bible study, but in her absence, “Phil Smith led it last week and it was a wonderful experience for all the participants. We have members who are stepping up where they need to.”

She is also focusing on the youth in the church. “I’m hoping to get more young people; currently we have a handful; I’m hoping to get more involved.”

Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post in 2014.


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