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Gary Hall to retire as Dean of National Cathedral

Gary Hall to retire as Dean of National Cathedral

In a letter today, the Very Revd Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, has announced that he will retire at the end of this year.

Over the past three years, the bishop, the staff, the chapter, and I have done the hard work of placing the cathedral on solid financial footing: Our budget is balanced and we are closing the books on our most successful year in recent memory. Our programs, public ministry, and relations with the schools on the close are vibrant, and we have finished the first phase of the earthquake repairs. Together, we have made great strides, not only in carrying out the cathedral’s mission, but also in stewarding this institution into its second century.
The cathedral, however, is on the cusp of a new era.

The Washington Post carries an “exclusive” on the news, released just this morning, that the cathedral board has voted to accept Dean Hall’s retirement, and that Bishop Mariann Budde will lead the cathedral through its interim. In its profile, the Post reports,

Hall was known as a fix-up man when he was hired three years ago from a prominent Michigan church and private school attended by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and other members of Romney’s family. While he was inspired to become a priest by the civil rights movement and sees himself as a liberal activist, Hall has often been seen first as an institution-fixer through his career. …

When he came in cathedral leaders said they needed to raise $50 million for quake damage and long-term financially stability. That number has crept up and Hall said Monday that the cathedral needs to raise $50 million a decade over the next 30 years to be sustainable. It hasn’t had a capital campaign since the 1990’s.

Hall raised the cathedral’s profile with his outspoken and steady public comments on things like race, transgender rights and gun control, but he said the place needs more in order to pay its large regular bills. He is proposing eventually reopening the college that’s on the cathedral’s grounds as a kind of think tank for 21st Century progressive religion.

In his letter, Hall says that the work he envisions for the cathedral will take dedicated leadership over the next decade or more. He is retiring now, he says, earlier than anticipated, rather than disrupt that effort midway through, concluding,

Stepping down as dean is hard: I have developed great working and personal relationships with Bishop Budde, with the school heads, with my staff colleagues, and with the cathedral’s congregation members, donors, and volunteers. …

There is no church or public institution in America like Washington National Cathedral, and a flourishing cathedral will nourish both the faith community and the nation itself in the years ahead. I will remain forever grateful for the time Kathy and I have spent with you.

With every prayer for God’s blessing on this cathedral,

The Very Reverend Gary R. Hall Dean, Washington National Cathedral

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Charels Martel

Thank everyone for the kind comments. That is a good question Scott about whether the Episcopal church will return a place for variety of personal belief being at a common table.

It will be interesting to see with an revision to The Book of Common Prayer. Personally, I will my doubts on a complete revision occurring to the 1979 version. And no – this is not a support for no gay marriage. Clearly those sections need revision. However, I am unclear that the rest of the core of the 1979 needs revision. Frankly, the tradition of the church has been Nicene Trinity Christianity. It has been, and prepares should remain. If Unitarian – well, to be simply honest – there is already a Unitarian organization. And again – just to be honest. But yes; this is a matter to be seen.

Tension we need. But sometimes tension becomes out and out conflict. I don’t know where the line occurs between tension and pointless conflict. As a measure of honest accounting for just myself, I have stopped having any role within any organized religion. That is a form of my retirement. I find a good place to be in keeping one’s feet rooted, and one’s eye looking forward. And also – around. Nevertheless, ours seems an age of such certain position all around. It doesn’t point to a happy future…

However, this is enough for these thoughts. Let us hope the Dean has a good retirement.

Scott Cooper

@ Charles Martel
Thank you for your thoughtful analysis of the role of tension in TEC. I wonder if this tension has been lost only temporarily. Given the upcoming prayer book revision, soon we may see a fresh tension arise between those who reconcile social progressivism with Nicene Trinitarian Christianity (the new “conservatives”?) and those preferring a more Unitarian expression of belief. And we may not. I hope that the National Cathedral will succeed in serving both, as it will require the resources of many to keep the lights on.

Rod Gillis

The features of the National Cathedral that are most compelling are those features which are distinctively American.

As for the future, The Anglican/Episcopalian tradition survived the War of Independence, The Civil War, and internal divisions during both the civil rights movement and the Vietnam era; with past as prologue, one should be optimistic that TEC will survive the current ongoing upheaval of the sexual revolution.

Professor Christopher Seitz

Je suis d’accord.

Mille merci. Bien cordialement.

Charels Martel

Retirement (as in ending a working career) can be either an planned event or sensing that the time is right. If my place to say – I would think the Dean is retiring as a result of both. I would if I was in his place. And yes Rod. Merci.

@ Christopher. Merci. I am nothing, but a lifetime of reading, thought, a variety of experiences and reflection does help. I wish the best for the Episcopal church. Sadly, I do not see greatness ahead. The world benefits from lives lived grandly. Our age is not a age of gold, and even an age of silver…

Charels Martel

@ Rod Gillis

Indeed. In these days, retirement maybe the means for opening oneself to the inner voice of the Divine. The very act of letting go is itself the first step.


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