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« Kenneth F. Haney | Main | My Tribute to Joe Carpenter »

Reverend J. L. Hall

Thank you to the family of Brother J. L. Hall for the privilege of speaking at this home-going service today.  I consider it a high honor to share my personal thoughts about this man who in his unpretentious and unaffected way exerted as much influence on the United Pentecostal Church International as anyone in our storied past.

Let me begin with the most memorable quote from my mother-in-law, Sister Vera Kinzie.  It was in reference to the incredible path of life that she and Brother Kinzie were blessed to walk.  She said simply, “I am so grateful that God allowed us to fall into the hands of good men.”  For me, Brother J. L. Hall was one of those good men.  I am forever indebted to him for inviting me into his realm and letting me sit under his tutelage.  His intimate knowledge of early Oneness Pentecostalism, his comprehensive grasp of our UPCI manual and documents, his love and respect for the English language had a profound effect on me as a minister and official in the United Pentecostal Church, International, and on myself as a person.

As a member of the Board of Publication, I saw the magnitude of the job that Brother Hall was asked to do.  In a very real sense, he was responsible for every printed word that came out of the officialdom of the organization.  He had to give approval for every story or article that was submitted in terms of spelling, grammar construction, doctrinal statements and even innuendos.  He was the gateway to every picture, graphic and illustration that was proposed for any publication.  I was impressed, not only with his proficiency in managing this monumental task, but, more importantly, with the innate sense of responsibility he possessed for the way the world perceived the UPCI.  He protected us from ourselves.

Brother Hall was a towering intellect, but his insistence on excellence was not driven by his educational training, his cognitive processes or perfectionism, if indeed he was a perfectionist.  But, it was his character that set his standard so high, perhaps higher than would have been noticed by most people.  It was his true spirituality that made him seek out truth, and he let the truth of any matter take him wherever it tended and ended up at whatever conclusion it ultimately revealed.  I personally know that sometimes, those conclusions were reached at considerable pain and were not always appreciated by others who had a stake in the opposite view.

One of my most cherished experiences involved Brother Hall and another great mentor of mine, former Assistant General Superintendent, Jesse Williams.  We were serving on a subcommittee that found the three of us alone in a conference room at WEC.  Since they were my elders, I took advantage of the situation to ask a deep, probing question of both of them.  I asked, “What do you think is the most important aspect of your ministry?  What has kept you going in spite of every obstacle that you have faced over the years?”  Without hesitation, both of them said, “My personal relationship with Jesus Christ is, by far, the most important thing in my life.”  I recollect that Brother Hall said further, “I guard my relationship with Christ with everything I have.  I will never let it be jeopardized by any circumstance or person.” 

This is the kind of commitment that has kept this organization together.  I am—we are—the beneficiaries of a man who was a true believer in this Apostolic truth.  Some among us may gain ascendancy in the church through convenience; some merely because the opportunity presented itself; and others by following a course expected of them by tradition.  The life of J. L. Hall grew out of an authentic relationship with Jesus.  This fact is always important, but perhaps never more important than it is today.  In the words of the Apostle Paul,

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  2 Timothy 1:12 (KJV)

Sister Hall, Ron, Gerald and Diana, thank you for sharing your husband and your father with us.  I hope there was enough of him to go around, although I suspect that you didn’t always feel that there was.  He was one of those special men whom God gifted to have a far-reaching influence.  It is with the utmost respect and admiration that I say I loved him and that he will always live in my thoughts and perceptions, teaching me the essence of true Christianity.


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