Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

February 14, 2014

Hancock new rector at All Saints

THOMASVILLE — For Father Paul Hancock, new rector and priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Thomasville, restoration is an essential component of life.

Said Hancock, “Firstly, in some ways, this was not what I expected to happen. I was surprised, but also delighted. When I came to Thomasville, I came here as the interim rector of All Saints Church. Father Buechner had been here for a long period of time. The general practice in the Episcopal Church now, especially when a church has enjoyed a long pastorate, is for an interim rector to be selected while the church goes through the selection process. That allows the parish to grieve over the loss of their beloved rector, and it also allows the lay leadership of the parish to assume some responsibilities that maybe they had not been assuming while there was someone in place who took on those jobs.”

 Hancock originally was supposed to be here no less than one year and no more than two years.

“And then, more and more members of the congregation, the vestry (the governing body of the church), and the search committee began to feel that perhaps the Holy Spirit was leading them to ask me to serve as the rector,” Hancock explained. “Likewise, my wife and I had already fallen in love with the community of Thomasville and the way of life here. I was ready, willing and able to serve in the capacity of priest at All Saints — but the one stipulation I had was that I wanted and needed the blessing of the bishop (the Right Rev. Scott A. Benhase) and the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia in order to do so. I sought that, I received it. ... And here I am.”

Hancock, who was formally instituted as All Saints’ third rector on Dec. 15, 2013, is a distinguished British gentleman with a rather interesting background.

He was born and raised just north of central London. His father was a physician with a large family practice.

Said Hancock, “I thought I had a call to full-time ministry when I was a teenager. I went to a secular university but studied theology, not with the aim of specifically being ordained, but so that I had that academic basis in theology.”

After graduating from high school, Hancock studied at Bristol University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He was then selected for the Anglican priesthood, leading to Hancock attending Oxford University to prepare for the ministry — doing his postgraduate research in 19th Century theology.

“The history of ideas is the thing which is my passion,” he explained.

Hancock was ordained as a priest in 1975. He married his wife, Cynthia, the same year. She was born and raised in the United States, and her father also is an Episcopal priest.

The couple lived in London while Hancock served as an assistant at a large church in South London for three years. When they moved to San Antonio, Texas, the main phase of his ministry began.

All of Hancock’s ministry prior to arriving at All Saints had been in Episcopal schools. He has served as chaplain, academic dean and headmaster in Texas, Louisiana and California. Hancock and his wife left California to relocate to Thomasville.

“I have loved school administration, and I found it very personally satisfying, but it just seemed that I had reached the time when I would rather be engaged in parish ministry. I contacted the Diocese of Georgia because my wife and I wanted to live close to her parents in Jacksonville (Fla.),” Hancock said.

All Saints invited him to preach.

“It was decided that I might be a good interim rector. That’s how I came to be here. And it’s like a whole new career. It’s wonderful, truly. I am putting much more of my energy into preaching, teaching and pastoring. And I feel these things most satisfying,” Hancock said.

Hancock is very devoted to family. He and his wife are parents of two sons — Matthew, a tennis professional who lives in Jacksonville, and Timothy, a creative director with an advertising company and lives in New York City.

Hancock’s father decided to be ordained as a priest in his 50s. Hancock participated in his father’s ordination ceremony.

Rosamond Davis, co-chairman of the search committee and currently senior warden at All Saints, opined, “I honestly feel that (Father Paul) Hancock is a gift from God. His presence will not only be an asset to our church, but also to the greater Thomasville community. His commitment to outreach efforts are as sincere and thoughtful as the pastoral care he gives to the parish of All Saints, its families and the Diocese of Georgia.

Said Hancock, “This is a great community. I love this church, and I feel very much at home here. I want to make sure that wherever All Saints is in the future is a cooperative effort between myself and the lay leadership of the church. I want us to discern together what God’s Will is for this place. The core values of All Saints will not change. On the other hand, I think there are opportunities for building upon those core values — and enhancing our ministry.”

The core value of the church, he explained, is that it wants to be a spiritual home.

“It’s not just a place that people come to, but also a place that people are sent out from. For those who appreciate a thoughtful, traditional, reverent style of worship, this is what All Saints stands for. We fully embrace the awesome, crucial uniqueness of God here. He always offers restoration to each and every one of us,” Hancock said.

Established Nov. 1, 1980, All Saints is at 443 Hansell St.

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