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
Photo credit: www.cathedral.org