The Catholic University of America

Faith in Action Series 

2015 Faith in Action Series kicks off with Robert Ryland, Esq. of Kirkland & Ellis LLP

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Ten years ago, Robert Ryland, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and a Deacon at First Baptist Church in Clarendon (now The Church at Clarendon), began helping his church to do some good: both provide for the changing needs of its congregation and contribute to the alleviation of an affordable housing crisis.

The Columbus School of Law was honored to have Mr. Ryland as the first speaker in this year’s Faith in Action series on September 21. He explained to an audience of students and faculty how his profession intersected with his faith, and how his congregation set a trend that has attracted national media notice, such as that of NPR and The Washington Post.

Like many good deeds, it was a long and complicated process, requiring that his legal talents be employed to help provide not only a housing project, but also retain a daycare center and preserve a landmark steeple at the same time. The complexity of the project was further magnified by a series of four lawsuits litigated over the course of seven years. The opposition’s arguments spanned an array of issues, from zoning to church-state separation, from complaints about the sight-line of the steeple to worries about the shadow it would cast upon gardens and lawns.

In the end, through Mr. Ryland’s oversight, the church finally achieved its hard-fought mission. It was a testament both to Mr. Ryland’s training as well as to his conviction, and his story was a worthy launch for the rest of the series to come.