Longtime pastor attains tenure

Published 12:01 am Saturday, July 17, 2010

Louis A. Hall Sr. was touched by the hand of God at a young age.

Just 15 when he felt God leading him into ministry, ordained at 17 and barely 20 years old when he became the youngest pastor ever of Vicksburg’s Mount Heroden Baptist Church in 1974, Hall said he’s always embraced the role and enjoyed doing what he was called to do.

After 36 years, the Mount Heroden congregation wants to make it a lifetime assignment.

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Members of the church have taken the unique step of giving Hall tenure, drafting a legal document that’s been filed at the Warren County Courthouse.

“We hope he stays another 30 years,” said Hilda White, a member of Mount Heroden’s board of trustees. “He’s a mild-mannered man, he loves us and loves the Lord. No one can come in and take his place.”

Hall preaches and teaches the word of God but also leads by example, she said.

“He teaches us how to pray, how to pray together,” White said. “He teaches the Bible — not just preaching about it, but teaching so we can learn from it.”

Hall, 56, said he knew early on that he wanted to go into ministry.

“I was led from my youngest years to do work for humanity, to do all I could for people,” he said.

Hall has been Mount Heroden’s pastor while also teaching seventh grade world history in the Vicksburg public schools for at least 30 years. He has also served other Vicksburg and Warren County churches over the years as a part-time pastor, including 37 years at Mount Ararat M.B. at Eagle Lake.

He said the natural energy and exuberance of youth helped him handle the demands of two full-time, demanding jobs, and fueled his vision for Mount Heroden, founded in 1877.

His goals included acquiring additional land around the church building at Clay and Locust streets. “The Lord has blessed us with that,” he said. Remodeling and additions have also been done, and the church’s old pipe organ, still functioning, is a great source of pride.

More and more, however, as he’s gotten older, he’s come to rely on and value the support of his congregation.

“They encourage you as you encourage them,” he said. There have been times of sadness and challenge, “but I’ve been blessed.”

A lifelong student of history, Hall said he is drawn especially to the Old Testament and loves to preach the lessons its people embody.

“God is a just and gracious God,” he said. “Whatever your condition is, God is a God who will forgive — but he doesn’t let us get away with things just because we say we’re Christian. We still must be obedient, and care for one another.”

No one book of the Bible is his favorite, though he is often drawn to the Psalms.

A Vicksburg native, Hall was baptized as a youth at Rock of Ages M.B. and served there as an usher, Sunday school teacher and secretary.

He graduated from the former South Vicksburg High School and attended Alcorn State University and Mississippi College. He earned a doctorate in divinity from Southwest Bible College and Seminary based in Gainesville, Ga.

He has a grown son, L.A. Hall Jr., who lives in Texas, and three grandchildren, and gives special credit to his mother, Flora Hall. “I’m grateful to have had her love and support,” he said. His father, Louis D. Hall, is deceased.

White said in his 36 years leading Mount Heroden Hall has “never been part of the problem but has always been part of the solution.”

Presenting him with tenure might be unusual, she said, “but we believe in our pastor and love him and want us with him always.”

Hall struggled to express his feelings at the honor.

“I never anticipated it,” he said. “I don’t know of it ever being done before. For me to have members who think enough of me and care enough about me, to have the confidence and love me that way, I can’t express how overjoyed and moved and honored I am.”