16 February 2012

Addison Hall: Rector of St. Andrew's in Wellesley prepares to leave his flock

Rector of St. Andrew's in Wellesley prepares to leave his flock

By Lee V. Gaines WickedLocal Wellesley

Posted Feb 16, 2012 @ 11:26 AM

Addison Hall, longtime rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, recently announced
that he would retire at the end of August. The Townsman sat down with the 65­ year ­old Hall to discuss
his career in Wellesley and what he will be doing once he leaves the church.
What does a church rector do?

“It’s a combination of being a parish priest,” Hall said, “which obviously includes worship and pastoral
care, teaching, but also includes, in this case, being a kind of chief administrator with a large staff in a
big parish with many programs.”

Hall said it isn’t exactly easy to manage his many different roles.

“It’s both challenging and occasionally overwhelming, but also constantly stimulating and interesting.”

Hall said the position also requires lots of writing, which he likes. In addition to his sermons and the
articles he writes for internal publication, he also writes poetry, but only as a hobby.
How did you get into this field of work?

Hall taught secondary school for a year after he graduated from Middlebury College in 1969. “Like many people in my generation, I was at loose ends for a while,” Hall said. “Teaching wasn’t exactly the right thing [for me.]”

A native of Ashfield, Mass., Hall had grown up in the church but had grown distant from it during
adolescence. After college, he said, “I got interested in spirituality and was drawn back into the

“I gradually began to realize my interests and academic preparation and childhood, in certain ways,
prepared me well for this particular ministry in the Episcopal church.”
Hall attended and graduated from the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge in 1974. Between
1974 and 1978, he served as clergy staff for St. Paul’s Cathedral in Burlington, Vt., and as rector of St.
Stephen’s Church in Middlebury, Vt., from 1978 until 1990, when he came to St. Andrew’s.
“Fortunately,” Hall said, “it’s worked out really well.”

How did you find Wellesley? “Episcopal clergy people, I think it’s fair to say, function as free agents,” Hall said.

Hall said while he enjoyed his 12 years at St. Stephen’s, he knew he could not stay there forever.

“When I was in my early 40s I began to consider other possibilities, and by a chain of happenstance or by the working of the Holy Spirit, I became aware of an opening [at St. Andrew’s],” Hall said.

“We both, the parish and I, came to an agreement it would be exciting for us to try working together,” he said. “We’ve had a very productive and generally happy time together.”

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment during your time as rector of St. Andrew’s?

“The sense of accomplishment is very comprehensive,” Hall said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with so many different, very highly motivated and gifted people, both parish volunteers, parish leaders and staff members. It’s been the teamwork that has been most satisfying.”

What would you consider the biggest challenge during your time here?

“The challenges are of course constant and highly various,” Hall said. “Some of the standard challenges are those that everyone who lives and works in local non­profits experience.”

Specifically, Hall highlighted the simple time constraints that plague many of his hardworking parish volunteers.

He said it is hard for people to find the time and make the time to do the kinds of ministries within the church they would like to do.

But, Hall said he meets these challenges “patiently, optimistically everyday.”

How did the death of your son affect your career and your relationships within the community?

Hall’s son John, a member of the Boston­based band Addison Groove Project – named so for his father – died at the age of 25 after a 17­month battle with cancer in 2004.

Hall said the experience “created a bond with people who have experienced particularly painful personal losses.”

“Going through the experience here, in the St. Andrew’s community, was the best possible way I can imagine to go through a terrible
experience because the community was so supportive in so many different ways, to me, to my wife Jody, and to our daughter Frances.”
Why have you decided to retire?

“I think it’s going to be such a big change in my life that much as I love this work and community, it’s better for me to start sooner thanlater to make this change which will require energy and vitality and some patience getting adjusted,” Hall said.
Who willtake over as rector for the church?

Hall said an interim rector, who has not yet been chosen, will take over once he leaves in August. The name of that person will be
announced sometime during the summer.

A permanent replacement will be chosen by the chief vestry officers of the church, who will be conducting a search over about a
yearlong period.

“It’s a big staff and I’m the only one who is leaving,” Hall said. “It’s a big and very capable staff.”
What will happen to Ben, “The Church Cat?”

Ben, the famous St. Andrew’s “church cat,” came to the church of his own volition about 15 years ago.
The now 18­year­old cat
belonged to a neighbor of the church, but when she developed a terminal illness, she asked that the church take care of Ben. Since that
time, Ben has been an integral staff member.

“I’m especially glad to be able to leave Ben in his highly respected staff position,” Hall said. “He is an attractive focus of attention for
parishioners and visitors of all ages and provides a superb welcoming presence.”

What are your plans for post­retirement?

Hall said he looks forward to pursing a range of other interests.

“I’m retiring to a family property in Ashfield, Mass., where I grew up, which has been in my family since 1800,” Hall said. “There is
some property management and lots of outdoor work thatI will enjoy.”
Hall said he will be retiring with his wife Jody. Their grown daughter, Frances, works for a nonprofit organization in Oregon.

“Most of all, I look forward to spending more time with my wife Jody, who has been such a constant support to me, not just in Wellesley, but also all through 40 years of ministry. We look forward to traveling, to spending more time with our daughter Frances
and with our other family and friends.”

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