Brad Hales: Culpeper Times ‘Citizen of the Year’
© Virginia News GroupThe Culpeper community is known for many of its residents who shine.You'll know when you have met one because you'll feel happier, energized and inspired. You'll come away feeling that all is right with the world.
One man who carries about him an aura of godliness, inner peace and great light is Brad Hales, the Culpeper Times 2012 Citizen of the Year honoree.
While some might argue that Pastor Hales, who guides the congregation at Reformation Lutheran Church, has as his job to make things right, Brad goes beyond the boundaries of his position to a proactive partnership to help everybody stay connected.
This past year Brad was instrumental in the formation of The Place, a gathering room located within Reformation Lutheran Church, where folks can stop by for a visit, share a cup of coffee and most importantly a conversation. It's a regular visiting area now for many area seniors as well as others who may just need a place to rest and refresh. The Place is now the place to be.
Between home visits and his role as minister of an ever-growing flock ― the congregation at Reformation Lutheran Church has increased from a few dozen in 2006 to more than 240 this year ― Hales spends time in the classroom teaching students history at Culpeper Christian School.
A Civil War buff, Hales is a firm believer that understanding and appreciating our past is the roadway to a brighter future.
Hales serves on two local boards: The Culpeper Human Services Board and the Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services which serves a five-county area.
He is a great advocate and voice for the community's senior community.
Kathi Walker works at Aging Together.
“I've known Brad for about six years. We met at an Aging Together community conversation when I first was hired. His enthusiasm was enough to confirm that I made the right decision joining the organization. Pastor Brad is one of the most passionate people I know for the work he does both at his church and in the community,” said Walker.
While theatre may not be his calling, more than 600 attended “A Night in Bethlehem” produced by members of the congregation in December 2011.
Visitors were awed by the sights, sounds, smells and especially the story of Christmas re-enacted in splendid costumes and with radiance that only a gifted pastor could provide.
Brad is well-known in the business community. Jim Charapich, president and CEO of the Culpeper County Chamber of Commerce, has his respect.
“I have known Brad for four years as best I can remember. Though I do not attend his church I rely on Pastor Hales as a trusted leader in our community. His smile and encouragement are an ever present part of our social fabric. His passion for people is a catalyst for good will in our community. One person can make a difference in a community, Pastor Brad Hales has shown this time and time again. He is faithful is finding ways to show the love of Jesus Christ without reservation. Pastor Hales is a bright light atop a hill with an everlasting message of love and hope,” said Charapich.
Mayor Chip Coleman agrees.
“I have known and worked with Brad for several years. He is a special guy dedicated to his church and his community. He was recruited by many of us to serve on the CHS board and serves on many other boards and organizations. I get a special feeling driving down Main Street on Sunday morning...seeing Brad standing on the sidewalk in front his church with a big smile waving to people driving by. I think he is one of the few people that smiles more than I do. He's also very active praying for my soul...and I need all the help I can get,” laughed Coleman.
One of Pastor Hale's most stalwart and dedicated fans is Al Aitken who took on the role of a Roman centurion in the ' A Night in Bethlehem' production.
Aitken, and his wife Nancy, find Brad to be intensely animated, deeply interested in knowing about new friends, captivating and 'undeniably cheerful' always with a laugh or a smile.
“I asked him years later how he could stay so upbeat with all the people he was always there for to help through their broken lives and multitudes of problems. His answer was simple, and I’ve heard him repeat it countless times,” said Aitken. “It’s all about Jesus…and there I offer you the first and my favorite quote about Brad. He says, “When you have Jesus in your heart and soul, how can you be anything but happy?”
Aitken and Pastor Hales spend many a morning breakfast solving the world's problems, sharing stories and reconfirming their beliefs in ageless principles. As Aitken says, “the kind that do not change with the generations because they were handed to us by God.”
“As a veteran, I’d be incomplete if I did not mention Pastor Brad’s deep love for our men and women in uniform and our veterans…he prays for them every day and thanks them sincerely for their sacrifice so that we may be free. Known for his deep affection for our nation’s heroes, Pastor Brad speaks every year at Culpeper’s Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day services. And by those who know personally of the sacrifice he speaks, he is loved and appreciated,” added Aitken.
Culpeper Times is pleased to choose Pastor Brad Hales as our 2012 Citizen of the Year. Brad's passion, care, concern and grace are qualities we all need as we head into another year.
As Aitken summed up. “It’s truly amazing how selfless he is.”