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ABCs of Newtown: C continued: One Final Rite Before Retirement For Reverend Cullens



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When Margot Hall read the latest ABCs of Newtown story (“C is for Cullens"), it brought a flood of memories.

Hall shared one of those memories with The Newtown Bee recently.

“Paul Cullens’ final act as pastor of Newtown Congregational Church was baptizing our middle child,” Margot said.

Cullens had stepped down, after 36 years as pastor of the then-Main Street church, in October 1964. He led his final worship service on October 25.

While he continued to serve his hometown for decades — having retired and moved into a home he and wife Agnes had built atop Castle Hill — Cullens provided one final rite for a longstanding NCC family following that Sunday worship service.

The Hall family shared a photo with The Newtown Bee showing the family with Rev Cullens just outside the church, which was then located at 31 Main Street. The building today serves as Newtown Meeting House.

In the photo, 4-month-old Marianne Hall is being held by her mother. To their left is Raymond Hall, the baby’s paternal grandfather; and Robert Hall, her father, holding 2-year-old Elinor, Marianne’s older sister.

Also pictured are Eugene Hall, the paternal great-grandfather of Marianne and Elinor; and Margaret Hall, their paternal grandmother.

The group is standing to the north of the building’s main entrance, near a temporary sign announcing the church’s 250th anniversary year.

Bob and Margot Hall were living in Hartford when Marianne was baptized, Margot said this week.

“It was an in-between time for us,” she said, of a few homes the young couple had before returning to Newtown in 1965.

Bob Hall also contacted The Newtown Bee following the publication of “ABCs of Newtown: C Is For Cullens.”

Like his daughter, Hall had also been baptized by Rev Paul Cullens. Having grown up in town, he was among the many Newtown youth who participated in Newtown Young People’s Club, a group that Cullens led while also serving as NCC pastor.

“We went to Washington, DC, several times,” Hall said. “I think all four years I was in high school I went.

“I also went to New Hampshire, and learned to ski on Mt Sunapee, based on those Young People’s Club ski trips,” he said. “You can still find a bunch of people who went on those trips.”

As reported in the recent “ABCs of Newtown” installation, Cullens left indelible marks on his hometown that continue to serve its residents. He resurrected the local Boy Scout troop, founded a local symphony orchestra, helped found the town’s community theater, had a youth agency created in his name, served as president of Newtown Forest Association, and co-founded an emergency fund that continues to help residents pay a necessary bill after all other avenues have been exhausted.

Cullens, said Bob Hall, “was a remarkable man.”

The Reverend Paul A. Cullens, on the left, stands with members of the Hall family followig his final worship service as pastor of Newtown Congregational Church, October 25, 1964. Margot Hall, third from right, is holding Marianne, who was baptized by Cullens as his final rite as an active member of the clergy. —Hall family photo
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