Zahl grew up in the Washington D. C. area and graduated from St Alban's School there in 1968. He went on to earn a degree from Harvard University as well as from the seminary in Nottingham, England and the doctoral program in theology at the University in Tubingen, Germany.
Zahl began his ministerial career as Rector of St Mary's Church in Scarborough, New York in 1982. In 1988 he was called to the same position at St James' Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where he remained until 1992. In 1994 he accepted the call to become Dean at Birmingham's Cathedral Church of the Advent. He left in 2004 to accept the position of Dean at the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. He resigned from Trinity in May 2007 and began his service as Rector of All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland in December of the same year. He retired in 2009 and moved to Florida.
While in Birmingham, Zahl visibly opposed the Episcopal Church's ordination of an openly homosexual bishop. His keynote address to the Episcopal Church Foundation Fellows gathering in Birmingham on February 4, 2004 is seen as the theological rationale for opposing the acceptance of homosexuality in the church. Zahl marked the ordination of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire on November 2, 2004 by flying a black flag over the 20th Street North entrance to the church. He expanded on his theological oppositions in a 2005 book Understanding the Windsor Report, co-written with Ian Douglas. Zahl has since stressed the importance of evangelism to grow local congregations above national and international church politics. The membership rolls at the Advent were expanded form 2,400 to 3,400 during his tenure there.
Paul and his wife Mary have three sons, John, David and Simeon, all of whom are involved in ministry.
|Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent|
- Zahl, Paul F. M. (1985) Who Will Deliver Us?: The Present Power in the Death of Christ. Seabury Press ISBN 0816424683
- Zahl, Paul F. M. (1998) The Protestant Face of Anglicanism. Eerdman's ISBN 0802845975
- Zahl, Paul F. M. and C. F. Barbee (1999) The Collects of Thomas Cranmer. Eerdman's ISBN 0802817599
- Zahl, Paul F. M. (2000) A Short Systematic Theology. Eerdman's ISBN 0802847293
- Zahl, Paul F. M. (2001) Five Women of the English Reformation. Eerdman's ISBN 0802830455
- Zahl, Paul F. M. (2003) The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus. Eerdman's ISBN 0802821103
- Zahl, Paul F. M. and Ian T. Douglas (2005) Understanding the Windsor Report: Two Leaders in the American Church Speak Across the Divide. Church Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0898694876
- Zahl, Paul F. M. (2007) Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life. Eerdman's ISBN 0802828973
- Zahl, Paul F. M. (2007) 2000 Years of Amazing Grace: The Story and Meaning of the Christian Faith. Rowman & Littlefield ISBN 0742552764