The Rev. John C. N. Hall smiles at his installation Saturday, Feb 23. After months of searching and the narrowing down of 50 candidates, St. Boniface Episcopal Church has found its new rector. The parishioners greet and chat with Hall after the service. Its clear he has found a new home and parishioners a new “sheep dog,” as he calls himself.
Hall grew up in New York but moved to Arizona with his family when he was 12 years old. He received a degree in radio-television communication in 1981, from the University of Arizona, and did freelance work for television and major league baseball.
“I realized that was a great way to go broke, so I became a salesman for hardware stuff,” he says laughing.
Throughout his working life, Hall knew he wanted to help people and felt there was greater calling.
“I’ve always wanted to help people become fully alive, he says.” I want to help people realize who they are in a relationship with each other and realize who they are in a relationship with God.
After his first son, Matthew, was born in 1985, the Halls moved to Alexandria, Va., where Hall attended the Virginia Theological Seminary.
Hall grew up in a church-going family, but at the age of 16 he questioned God. He asked what many people ask: “Why do bad things happened to individuals?” But then a high-school friend took Hall to a church youth group, through which he learned to see God in a new light.
“It turned my life around when I realized God cared about me,” Hall says. “(I learned that) God wasn’t a fluff ball in sky, but that he cared about individual people.”
Hall spreads that message to his parishioners and welcomes any new members who would like to attend a church service. His main goal in the first few months is to have a more active church youth program.
When Hall first took the helm at his last church, St. Matthew’s Episcopal, in Chandler, Ariz., there were four children in the youth program. He immediately doubled the size of the program by bringing in his four sons. And, 15 years later, by the time he left St. Matthew’s a few moths ago, there were more than 100 children in the youth program.
He hopes to do the same at St. Boniface, through staff additions, outreach and parishioner participation.
“A lot of people call me ‘the shepherd,’ but sheep make sheep, so I told parishioners, ‘You already know someone who wants to be here, so get out there and make some sheep,’” he says. “I call myself the ‘sheep dog,’ because God is the shepherd, and I just bite at the sheeps’ heels to move them along.”