June 17, 1934 – November 3, 2020
Rev. Dr. Bouder graduated from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1961. He served at churches in Milton, PA and Lancaster, PA, before accepting a call to First Baptist in January 1977. Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary bestowed upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1983.
During his time with First Baptist, church membership increased substantially, giving to missions skyrocketed, the Nursery School was started, and both the Cambanes addition and Funk wing were constructed.
In 1996, Dr. Bouder retired as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church after twenty years of ministry.
Rev. Dr. Robert William Bouder, 86, of Winchester, VA and formerly of Bethlehem, PA, passed away peacefully into our Lord’s waiting arms on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 in his home, surrounded by his loving family. He was the devoted husband of Sandra (Lemon) Bouder, with whom he shared over 60 years of steadfast marriage.
Dr. Bouder is a native of Lancaster, PA where he was born the son of the late William Skiles and Alice Ruth (Ault) Bouder. Baltimore, MD was home for most of his early years. His conversion to Christ and call to ministry came while a student at the University of Maryland. Dr. Bouder earned his BA degree in History from the university of Maryland; a BD, M-Div. and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
All of Dr. Bouder’s pastorates have been in Pennsylvania. His first Pastorate was the First Baptist Church, Milton, PA. After 4 years of service there he was appointed a “National Missionary” to be the initial Pastor of a new church start in Lancaster, PA where the church grew from eighteen members to two hundred fifty members, later named Westgate Baptist Church. He then was called to be Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Bethlehem, PA. The church grew in attendance from one hundred seventy-five to six hundred and was listed in the top thirty churches of the American Baptist Convention in mission giving. Dr. Bouder has held leadership roles in the National, Regional and Associational levels of the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A. In Lancaster and Bethlehem, he was a leader with Meals On Wheels for which he received the PA State’s Benjamin Rush Award for Community Leadership.
Since retiring in 1996, Dr. Bouder has returned to ministry to serve on three separate occasions as Interim Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Allentown, PA, First Baptist Church, Bethlehem, PA, and Mountain Baptist Church, Bluemont, VA.
In 2008, Dr. Bouder returned to the official rank of “retired”.
Throughout his retirement years, until moving to Winchester, VA, Dr. Bouder continued his leadership as President of the First Baptist Church Nursery School Board. He enjoyed fishing, stained glass and woodworking as well as a hands-on ministry to people in need. But his greatest joy was spending time with his family, friends, and his precious grandchildren.
Survivors: In addition to his loving wife Sandra; son T. Glen Bouder of Winchester, VA; daughter Wendelyn D. Weaver of Statesboro, GA; six wonderful grandchildren; sisters Gladys Belcher of Oxford, PA, Patricia Seydlitz of Front Royal, VA; brother John J. Bouder of Pahrump, NV and many loving extended family and friends.