After a good deal of prayer, reflection, and conversation with my wife, Kathy, Bishop Budde and chapter leadership, I have decided to retire and end my term as dean of Washington National Cathedral effective Dec. 31, 2015.
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 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 to increase the endowment, finish the earthquake restoration, and attend to deferred capital projects. Responding to these cultural and financial challenges will require a leader with a long tenure—a decade, perhaps more—and at the age of 66, with two years remaining on my contract, I am not the person for the job ahead. I believe the time is now right for a new dean with the necessary combination of energy and stability to come and lead the next steps in the cathedral’s life and ministry, and so I have decided to retire now rather than risk disrupting the institution’s momentum in two years.
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. Kathy and I will miss Washington and the many friends we have made, but after almost 40 years of my ordained ministry, it is time for us to settle into a different rhythm of living. I look forward to contributing to the life of the cathedral, including leading the Iona pilgrimage next year, continuing our work on race, gun violence, and LGBT issues, and in other ways that I can be most helpful.
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