Gary Hall, Washington National Cathedral dean, retiring at end of year

Posted Aug 18, 2015

[Washington National Cathedral] The Very Rev. Gary Hall, tenth dean of the Washington National Cathedral, announced Aug. 18 that he will retire on December 31.

“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 history,” wrote Hall, who became dean on October 1, 2012, in a letter to the cathedral community.

“The cathedral, however, is on the cusp of a new era. The next decades will require both the continuing evolution of its internal culture as it contends with the changing face of American religion and our country’s increasing diversity, and a major capital campaign,” wrote Hall. Continuing this progress at the cathedral will require a leader who can commit at least a decade to the job, he said. “[A]t the age of 66, with two years remaining on my contract, I am not the person for the job ahead.”

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of Washington, will serve as interim dean beginning January 1. The search for Hall’s successor will begin in September and will be conducted by a search committee that she and the chapter will appoint.

“With both sadness and gratitude, we have received the Very Rev. Gary Hall’s notice that he will be retiring as dean of Washington National Cathedral at the end of this year:  sadness because Gary is a principled and creative colleague; gratitude because he has accomplished much in his three years as dean,” wrote Budde and David J. Kautter, chair of the Cathedral’s chapter, in a letter. “One of the hallmarks of a leader is the wisdom to discern when to lead and, just as importantly, when to allow the mantle of leadership to be taken up by someone else. Gary is such a leader, and we are thankful for his attentiveness to God’s call.”

In retirement, Hall will continue to be involved with the cathedral, including leading a pilgrimage to the island of Iona in Scotland in the spring of 2016. He will also return periodically to preach and teach, said Budde and Kautter.

The Washington National Cathedral is the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the seat of both the bishop of Washington and the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. It is governed by its dean and the Cathedral Chapter, and is also overseen by the trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Church Foundation.


Comments (6)

  1. James Boyd says:

    Will this end the attack on the Lee and Jackson windows that have been in the Washington National Cathedral since 1953?

    1. robert hunter says:

      No this will not end the attack on the Lee,Jackson/confederate windows . Future candidates to be dean will always face the question as they are interviewed by the Cathedral Chapter as to whether they are supportive of the confederate windows remaining. Men/women who desire to be Dean will have to answer that they are supportive.
      Cathedrals really do not support a ministry of leadership. The cathedral ministry is more like a chaplaincy that is non threatening in and to it’s mission. In order to sustain and operate such a large institution it has to encourage a “money change’ support system.
      The windows will remain with my blessing of forgiveness. They represent a memorial to the grief and hurt of a people who lost their nationalistic secessionist cause for a new nation supported by slavery

  2. Willis Moore says:

    Being Dean of any Cathedral is difficult in the 21st Century….historic buildings need repairs, changing attitudes towards attendance, commitment, and money impact “what we used to do.” Still, the Cathedral Church of Sts Peter and Paul (aka WNC) is a vital symbol in our Nation and in our Church. Prayers for guidance and enlightened search go to Bishop Budde.

  3. Doug Desper says:

    From Dean Hall’s Washington Post interview, August 1, 2013:

    During seminary he got divorced after six years of marriage. He also met his current wife, Kathy, a librarian, there. She was married to another seminarian.

    Life experiences informed Hall’s unconventional views on marriage. (His parents were married seven times between them.) “We have this cartoon in America where you grow up, get married and stay the same person,” he says. “For the church to say, ‘No sex before marriage,’ is not realistic,” he argues.

    I describe myself as a non-theistic Christian. And he goes on to expand on the concept.
    “Jesus doesn’t use the word God very much,” he says. “He talks about his Father.”

    I’m trying to figure out Jesus as a son of God and a fully human being, if he has both fully human and a fully divine set of chromosomes. . . . He’s not some kind of superman coming down. God is present in all human beings. (End)

    Maybe the search for a new Dean will consider personal stability and clear foundations, not the least of which is that God is not “in” all humans, but instead that God in Christ is the unique and sole Incarnation and is “with” us — the reason for our hope. (Or perhaps we will prosper with more such clergy who thrive on touting the losing arguments settled at the Council of Nicaea).

    1. Claire Milligan says:

      Congratulations and best wishes to you and your family, Dean Gary. I had the privilege of receiving you at the Welcome Table in Hayneville at the Jonathan Daniels and Martyrs Pilgrimage a few weeks ago. I wish I’d known about your retirement then… I would have said GOD SPEED then. It’s not too late to wish you well! May Our a Father continue to richly bless you. Claire Milligan.

  4. Dean Starr says:

    Reverand Hall–enjoyed your sermons and your take on Christianity. Also, as a kid, loved your father’s movies in the Bowery Boys.

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