OLEAN — Tyrone Hall, barber, pastor and community activist, has a new church and a new calling in these days of the pandemic.
Hall, whose Hall of Fame Barber Shop on West State Street was closed until recently due to the pandemic, said he had a lot of time to think over the past several months. In the meantime, he also resigned as pastor of the Lighthouse Church of God of Prophecy.
“It was time,” he said. “I’d been there for six years.”
Hall has since founded a new church, The Church Without Walls, which has been held outside at Lincoln Park Sundays at 9 a.m. for the past month. He also broadcasts over Facebook Live, and had nearly 1,400 views last week.
And along with a committee of about 25 volunteers, Hall has set a goal of distributing up to 1,000 pair of shoes for area school students.
It’s easy, he said, with parents out shopping for back-to-school shoes for their children encouraged to pick up a pair to donate.
The distribution will be Sept. 6 in Lincoln Park. Feet Heat, the shoe giveaway, will also benefit from a cash app, $gettothecross, Hall said.
He’s already spoken with the owners of Sports Locker, who agreed to promote it, Hall said. He’s hoping other stores participate in the promotion as well.
“Donations from the community have been a blessing,” Hall said. The shoes may be dropped off at Hall of Fame Barbershop, 309 W. State St., or 901 Osgood Ave.
“When you buy them a new pair of shoes, stretch and buy another pair for someone else,” he said. “Think about someone who doesn’t have a good pair of shoes.”
Hall said, “If you give a pastor time to think, he’ll have time to think of how to bring us together. With all the social distancing, it seems like everyone is apart right now.”
The goal, Hall said, “Is to bring us together. Volunteers will be wearing matching T-shirts, masks and sneakers at the show giveaway Sept. 6.
“We’re going to make this an annual event,” Hall said. “Next year we will have more momentum.”
The committee of volunteers meets Tuesdays at Lincoln Park.
“The Lord gave me a vision of working with the volunteers,” Hall said. “We can’t go and congregate in a small room where everyone is on top of one another.”
So they gather in Lincoln Park with their lawn chairs and their faith and listened to Hall preach from the gazebo. A young man will be playing keyboards. He’s got a drum kit in the gazebo and he’s looking for someone to play guitar.
More people are coming to the park services each Sunday, Hall said.
“The theme is to pull up,” Hall said. Wearing masks is encouraged. “If you don’t wear a mask, keep your distance.
“I always tell everyone that 87%-92% of Jesus’ ministry was outside the temple.,” Hall said. “COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives and how we worship.”
He said, “It was time for me to move out more into the community. In the summer we’ll have church outside in Lincoln Park.”
He’s on the lookout for a suitable building.
“We will need to go inside in the winter,” he added.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)