New Dean Named to the Cathedral

July 21, 2019

Dear Cathedral Members and Friends:


The Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul has a new leader. The Cathedral Chapter, including Bishop Sean W. Rowe, unanimously elected a new Dean on Friday, July 19.

She is the Rev. Melinda L. Hall, vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Brookville, in the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Melinda will start on Tuesday, Oct. 15, and will succeed the Very Rev. Dr. John P. Downey, who has served at the Cathedral for 32 years. He will start a final sabbatical on Oct. 1 and retire on Dec. 31. Melinda will serve as Dean-elect until she is installed as Dean in early 2020.

Melinda impressed the Chapter with her vision for the Cathedral, particularly its role in the remaking of Erie and its downtown. The Chapter is excited about her desire to expand the mission of the Cathedral by building on Dean Downey’s steady leadership, always drawing strength from Christ’s message of hope.

Melinda, 35, is the first woman to be named Dean of the Cathedral. She is the eighth Dean since St. Paul’s, founded as a church in 1827, became the cathedral for the Diocese in 1915.

Please pray for Melinda and her family: her husband, the Rev. Nathan Royster, a Presbyterian minister, and their 4-month-old son, Luke. We will make plans to welcome and help them as they move from Brookville to Erie. And please continue to pray for Dean Downey, whose career we will celebrate with an evensong and reception on Sunday, Sept. 22.

Melinda has led Holy Trinity Church since 2014 and has increased the connections between the congregation and the community. A native of Kentucky, Melinda (who prefers to be addressed by her first name) graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, in New Jersey, in 2010 and General Theological Seminary, in New York, in 2012. She was ordained in 2013.

Melinda possesses the attributes that our congregation identified for the new Dean – attributes set forth in the Cathedral profile that guided the Chapter during the search. The profile, which was based on input from the congregation, called for a Dean who appreciates the Cathedral’s current ministries – its high-quality worship and music and its outreach efforts – and who can push us to new levels of engagement.

The profile listed words to describe the gifts essential to the future leader of the Cathedral: “dynamic, strategic, empowering, community-builder.” They all describe Melinda.

Thank you for your support as we embark on a new journey for the Cathedral and Erie.


Ed Palattella, Senior Warden

News release from the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania

First woman to lead congregation will be Episcopal Church’s youngest cathedral dean

ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA--The Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie, Pennsylvania, has named the Rev. Melinda Hall, 35, as its eighth dean.

Hall, vicar of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Brookville, Pennsylvania, was elected unanimously on Friday by the cathedral chapter, the church’s governing board, which includes the Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe, bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania. She will take up her new post on October 15 and will be installed early in 2020.

“I’m honored and excited to be in ministry with the people of the cathedral,” Hall said. “This is a fascinating time for Erie and for the cathedral congregation. As downtown Erie redevelops, the cathedral’s more open spirituality and tradition of beautiful worship can provide opportunities for people to find a sacred space where they can connect to themselves and to God.

“At the same time, the church needs to be a voice of faithfulness making sure people on the margins aren’t left out of change,” she said. “At the core of who I am as a priest is the conviction that the church exists for the world.”

A native of Kentucky, Hall taught English in South Korea and studied in England and Lebanon before being ordained a priest in 2013. She grew up in the evangelical Christian church and was initially drawn to Anglicanism while attending choral evensong during a study abroad term at Oxford University.

She holds a B.A. in English from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and a certificate of Anglican Studies from the General Theological Seminary in New York. 

“Melinda is a gifted preacher, teacher and pastor, and she is deeply committed to our region and its people,” Rowe said. “Her faithfulness to the gospel and energy for collaborating with the community make her the ideal leader for this new chapter in the cathedral’s history.”

The Very Rev. Dr. John P. Downey, who has served as dean of St. Paul’s since 1987, will leave the position on October 1 for a final sabbatical and retire at the end of 2019.

“Melinda impressed the chapter with her vision for the cathedral, particularly its role in the remaking of Erie and its downtown,” wrote Ed Palattella, who chairs the cathedral chapter, in a letter announcing Hall’s election. “The chapter is excited about her desire to expand the mission of the Cathedral by building on Dean Downey’s steady leadership, always drawing strength from Christ’s message of hope.”

Hall is married to the Rev. Nathan Royster, a Presbyterian minister. The couple have a four-month-old son, Luke, and will move to Erie in the fall. Before then, Hall will resign her position on the Brookville Area School District Board, to which she was elected in 2017.

The Cathedral of St. Paul, home to a 250-member congregation, was founded in 1827 and became the cathedral of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania when it was established in 1915.

The Forward, news from the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania


Posted July 24, 2019

Read the article HERE


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