Tributes for "outstanding" Pendle and Ribble Valley clergyman John
Church leaders have paid tribute to an "outstanding" clergyman who has died suddenly at the age of 67.
The Rev John Hallows had been the vicar of Barrowford and Newchurch in Pendle from 2001 to 2016 where he became a well known and loved figure.
Since December 2017 he had been the part-time vicar of Gisburn.
In a joint statement Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn and Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, said: “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 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."
A priest for 23 years, John previously worked as a teacher and gave up his role as deputy head of St Thomas More Comprehensive School in Chelsea to study for the priesthood 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 to 2001.
John was born in a military hospital as his father was in the army and the armed forces background obviously influenced him as he was 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.
John trained 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.
He 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 and finally at St Thomas More Comprehensive.
Married twice, John and his first wife Clare had two children, Ruth and Daniel.
John married Tracy, the headteacher of Wheatley Lane C of E Primary School in Fence in February last year.
While John did enjoy some aspects of retirement including walking, reading and listening to music, he still felt called to ministry.
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 thought John took on the role and was licensed as priest at St Mary’s.
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 lovingheavenly Father interceding for all those left behind.”
John's funeral took place last Thursday at St Thomas’ Church in Barrowford.