The Rev. Allen V. Harris began as our Regional Minister in June of 2015. Previously Rev. Harris has served congregations in Cleveland, Ohio; New York, New York; and Grapevine, Texas. He was ordained to the ministry of Jesus Christ on May 19, 1991. His most recent pastoral experience was in leading a multi-age, multi-racial, declining urban parish through a transformational process that resulted in it becoming an Open and Affirming, Anti-Racist/Pro-Reconciling, and Accessible congregation whose membership increased by more than 100%. His additional pastoral experiences include overseeing Christian education programs designed to integrate persons into the life of the church, facilitating evangelism ministries, ministering to youth and young adults, providing pastoral care to the homebound and hospitalized, and providing leadership to outreach ministries directed toward providing food, clothing, and rental assistance to persons in need.
Rev. Harris has an extensive background in public relations and is skilled in the use of both traditional media (print advertising, press releases, etc.) and digital media (website development, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, blogs, etc.). He is the author of a variety of news articles and book reviews and is a contributor to journals and magazines. As a public speaker, Rev. Harris is comfortable with both large and small audiences, formal and informal settings, and planned and spontaneous presentations.
He has received specialized training in the Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation initiative of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has participated in a number of community-based conference opportunities both as a participant and as a presenter. Rev. Harris has participated in and presented at the Congress on Urban Ministry, a biennial event where persons with a passion for social justice explore creative ways and identify resources that are helpful in confronting the issues and addressing the needs of the urban communities the participants serve. He has participated in and presented at the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Children Welcome! conference offering perspectives on diversity in working with children and youth in our churches. Rev. Harris has used sabbaticals in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis/St. Paul to continue to enrich his understanding of the issues that face congregations (especially fundraising and worship styles), particularly those in urban areas, those that are multi-cultural, and those that are multi-racial.
A community activist, Rev. Harris has served on multiple committees and commissions. Included in the array of his community and volunteer leadership involvement are: The Adult Conference of the Christian Church in Ohio, Young Adult Ministries for the Christian Church in Ohio, the Commission on the Ministry of the Ohio Region, Shared Ministry (a neighborhood urban ministry cluster), Cleveland Christian Home Capital Campaign, the (Cleveland) Mayor’s Centennial Celebration Committee, The Ohio City Dialogue Steering Committee, the Housing Workgroup and Human Services Dialogue Committees, the “Get the Vote Out” Initiative (a project of the Gill Foundation in Northeast Ohio), and the General Board/Administrative Committee of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Rev. Harris has earned several awards and recognitions which include those bestowed by the city government of Cleveland, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for his work related to full inclusion of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities.
Originally from Roswell, New Mexico, Rev. Harris is the son of a rancher/Army Lt. Col. and a career nurse. His Bachelor of Science degree was earned from Phillips University, in Enid, Oklahoma (in Religious Education) and his Master of Divinity degree was earned from Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas with a concentration in Christian Education. Rev. Harris is also a graduate of the Neighborhood Leadership Program in Cleveland, Ohio (Class 17).
In his Letter of Interest submitted to the Regional Minister Search Committee, Rev. Harris says that he is first and foremost a pastor, keenly aware of “the power and grace of a pastoral presence in the grand moments and the tragic movements of an individual’s and a congregation’s life.” He understands that pastoral care, to the clergy as well as to the congregations, is one of the fundamental facets of the work of a Regional Minister. He understands too, that the Capital Area, even with its geographical diversity, is a setting that is, markedly, urban. Rev. Harris states that his “commitment to, understanding of, and immersion in hospitality, diversity, and inclusiveness” are some of the tools that are required for the transformation that is desired for this Region of the Christian Church. He is keenly aware of the need and the responsibility to reach out to all areas of the Region and especially to those areas where the sense is that the more rural the setting the more distant the people feel from the care of the Region.
Rev. Harris’ response to the question of what gifts he possesses that will enable him to be an effective Regional Minister in the Capital Area are summarized here. He wrote,
“I am a passionate advocate for justice, equality, and peace. Through my participation in Disciples Peace Fellowship, GLAD Alliance, and the Disciples Justice Action Network I seek to live out the truth that a faith in the God of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and in Jesus Christ requires a dedication to ‘the least, the last, the lost, and the loneliest’ among us. My significant Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism training and reading as well as my work with the Anti-Racism Team of the local congregation I serve, has heightened my awareness of my own white privilege and the gospel necessity for addressing institutional racism as well as individual prejudice, starting with myself and with the Church. I would be elated to serve in the Region that hosts the Disciples Center for Public Witness and our Refugee and Immigration Ministries.
“As Senior Pastor of a vibrant, historic, urban congregation I have honed my skills in redevelopment/transformation work, staff and intern supervision, fundraising, facilities scheduling and management, program creation and oversight, strategic/long-range planning, community relations, media/public-relations, evangelism and membership development, constitution and by-laws revision, time management, and supplies purchasing.
“I would be especially interested in mentoring new and emerging pastors. I have had experience both in New York City and in Cleveland supervising interns and field education students, and in my capacity as co-director of the young adult program in the Ohio region I have served informally as mentor and spiritual director of several new and emerging clergy. I know this is a most difficult and demanding time for persons going into the ministry (indeed for all who are in ministry) and thus see the Regional Minister as a perfect person to help network, nurture, and perhaps help retain recently trained and called clergy.
“Finally, it is my delight in Holy Scripture, my love of the living, loving, laughing God, my deep desire to follow in the radical and life-changing way of Jesus, and my complete and total reliance upon the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that enables me to even imagine being your Regional Minister. I love people, and I believe I have been gifted and called to help even more people to experience life more fully and faithfully. It is a profound privilege to even be considered by you to help lead you in the Capital Area Region.”
Rev. Harris is married to the Rev. Craig W. Hoffman, an ordained clergyperson in the United Church of Christ. Craig is the Executive Assistant to the Senior Pastor of Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He will remain in Cleveland for the foreseeable future in his position there and in the 1890’s home they remodeled on the Near West Side of Cleveland. They celebrated their 25th Anniversary on June 2nd, 2015. It all started when…
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