One of the pioneers of being an ordained reverend deacon for the Waikato and Taranaki Anglican Diocese has retired after a quarter of a century of service.
Norris Hall was the fifth reverend deacon to be ordained in the diocese. The event took place in a packed Te Awamutu St John's Church and was presided over by Bishop David Moxom (now Bishop Sir David), then Bishop of Waikato.
Norris grew up in a Christian family and joined St John Anglican Church as an adult and was baptised and confirmed.
He took up the calling to be ordained when it was a relatively new concept - and says there was no handbook.
"The concept was new to the priests and deacons, but Bishop David took it upon himself to call us together regularly to support our training and work through any issues," says Norris.
"Our calling was to take church to our parish communities as and where it was required.
"Each community is unique, so the work is different for each deacon."
Waikato and Taranaki Anglican Diocese now has about 16 deacons.
Norris says he had various roles, but it mostly involved working out in the community and supporting the priest at regular services, and as Sacristan of St John's was often called upon to prepare the church for Mass.
Norris was a regular contributor to the parish magazine.
He ministered in a number of rest homes and was acting chaplin at Te Ata Resthome and Matariki Hospital and assisted the RSA padre.
Norris also took occasional services at CHT Te Awamutu, took funerals and mid-week High Communion when asked and prepared a number of families for baptisms.
Now and then he surprised his parishioners as well — such as when he would be called to minister on a farm and would pitch in to help with the milking, in his robes.
He took his training seriously as well, combining fulltime work with four years theological training at Waikato University.
Norris undertook two-and-a-half years of that training studying the spiritual foundation as a Franciscan and in November 1996 was received into the Franciscan Order.
"The Franciscan study was demanding, but I never regretted it," he says.
"Being part of the higher order gave extra impetus to my work within the church."
He believes in the Hebrew saying Kiddush ha-Shem, which is sanctifying the Holy Name (Hebrews do not say the Name) and involves 'Acts of loving kindness'.
"That is how I see my ministry and other work in the community," says Norris.
He retains his ordination and can still be called upon to assist where needed.
And with a lifetime of service to many groups in Te Awamutu, that is probably likely, although Norris says he is stepping down to concentrate on other work.
Currently he is secretary/treasurer of Te Awamutu Justices of the Peace and runs a successful and busy clinic programme three days each week.
Norris says he takes on the work simply because he enjoys it, enjoys working with people and doing good and kind deeds in Te Awamutu.