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13th July 2018

Warm Tributes paid to 'outstanding' Lancashire clergyman

‘A clear, Biblical preacher with a strong desire to make new disciples’

The Bishop of Blackburn and the Bishop of Burnley have paid tribute to Rev John Hallows, an East Lancashire clergyman who has passed away at the age of 67.

Rev Hallows had been Vicar of Barrowford and Newchurch in Pendle until retirement in 2016. Since December 2017 he has been the part-time Vicar of Gisburn.

He was licensed to his role at Gisburn by Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, at a service attended by parishioners and various local civic representatives including the Mayor of Ribble Valley.

John had been a Priest for 23 years. After a career in teaching, in 1994 John resigned from his post as deputy head of St Thomas More Comprehensive School in Chelsea to study to be a Priest in the Anglican Church at Oak Hill College, London.

In 1994 John began his ministry as assistant curate at St John’s Boxmoor. He then went on to serve as part of a team ministry in Bracknell Deanery in Oxford from 1998-2001.

John’s army background had obviously touched him (his father was in the army and he was born in a Military Hospital) and so he was also Chaplain to Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Army Cadet Force for 22 years.

In 2001 the family moved to Lancashire and John became the vicar of St Thomas’ Barrowford and St Mary’s Newchurch in Pendle, where he served until his retirement in 2016.

Speaking today, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn and Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, issued a joint statement saying: “Rev John Hallows was outstanding in his commitment and love for his people. He was a kind and generous pastor and a clear, Biblical preacher with a strong desire to make new disciples for Jesus Christ.

“He delighted in parish life and was much-loved both in the rural village of Newchurch and in the more suburban setting of Barrowford. He had an especially strong and notable ministry to schools and will be missed by many parents and children.  

“The energy he gave to ministry seemed to increase as he grew older, and in recent months he helped to form the Filling Station, a group offering worship in a modern style to people across the Ribble Valley.

“We would be grateful for your prayers for all who loved John; for his former parishioners and especially for Tracy and all of his family.”

Rev John Hallows was born at the military hospital in Tidworth to parents Eileen and Albert, John’s father was in the army. He has an older sister, Margaret.

In 1968 John attended St Mary’s College, Sutton Coldfield to study for his A Levels. He then went on to train as a monk in the Roman Catholic Church studying at The Pontifical University of the Lateran in Rome from 1971-73 and being part of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart religious community.

John then felt a calling to teach rather than the Catholic priesthood and from 1975-1994 studied at the University of Birmingham, the University of London and the Open University gaining a theology degree, a PGCE, an advanced diploma in Education Management and an MSc in Education Management at distinction level. John began his teaching career in 1974 at Sacred Heart College, Worcester, before moving to Trinity School Leamington Spa.

Finally, in 1987 he was appointed Deputy Head of St Thomas More Comprehensive School, where he remained until entering the priesthood.

In 1992 John and his first wife Clare had a daughter Ruth, with their son Daniel to follow in 1994. John was an amazing dad and so very proud of his two children. Clare and John worked well to parent their two children even after they separated.

John married Tracy, the headteacher of Wheatley Lane VA Church of England Primary School, Fence, in February 2017. John did enjoy some aspects of retirement: walking, reading, listening to music but he still felt called to ministry. He enrolled on a spiritual direction programme but felt that wasn’t for him. 

He considered asking the Bishop’s ‘permission to officiate’ in the Diocese but still had a yearning for his own congregation.  Bishop Philip then asked John and Tracy to consider the post at St Mary the Virgin, Gisburn, and after much prayer and lists of pros and cons the decision was made and in December 2017 John was licensed as priest at St Mary’s.

Speaking today, Tracy said: “The congregation and parishioners welcomed us with open arms.  It is a lovely community to be part of.  As well as his official work John enjoyed getting to know his parishioners, often visiting the Auction Mart and, of course, the White Bull.

“The number of tributes and messages has been overwhelming.  John touched the lives of so many and his faith and love of God has spread far and wide. No one can begin to understand why God called John home at this time but he is in the presence of his loving heavenly Father interceding for all those left behind.”

  • Rev John Hallows’ funeral took place on July 12 at St Thomas’ Church in Barrowford.