An Introduction of Rev. Allen V. Harris to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Capital Area
The Regional Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Capital Area is pleased to introduce our next Regional Minister. The Rev. Allen V. Harris has served congregations in Cleveland, Ohio; New York, New York; and Grapevine, Texas. His Bachelor of Science degree was earned from Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma and his Master of Divinity degree was earned from Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, having concentrations in Religious Education at both. Rev. Harris is also a graduate of the Neighborhood Leadership Program in Cleveland, Ohio.
His most recent pastoral experience has been leading a multi-age, multi-racial, declining urban parish through a transformational process that has resulted in it becoming an Anti-Racist/Pro-Reconciling, Open and Affirming, and Accessible congregation whose membership has increased by more than 100%. At the local level, he has relevant pastoral experience that includes overseeing and leading 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 community-based food, clothing, and rental assistance to persons in need.
As an added bonus to our Region, 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, blogs, Instagram, etc.). He is the author of a variety of news articles and book reviews and is a regular 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 initiatives 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 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 communities the participants serve. He has participated in the National Cityscapes Conference where those in attendance explored the intersections between the urban environment, the arts, and social change. Rev. Harris has used sabbaticals to continue to enrich his understanding of the issues that face congregations, particularly those in urban areas, those that are multi-cultural, and those that are multi-racial.
Rev. Harris has actively served on a number of committees and commissions at both the local and regional expressions of church and community life. The Adult Conference of the Christian Church in Ohio; Young Adult Ministries for the Christian Church in Ohio; the Commission on the Ministry for the Christian Church in Ohio; 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 and Administrative Committee of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are representative of the groups that have benefited from Rev. Harris’ service and leadership.
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. He was chosen as one of two Representative Phillipians at his graduation from Phillips University.
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 is committed to being a visible presence from Northern Virginia to Delaware and from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland.
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, Disciples Justice Action Network, and GLAD Alliance, 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 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, through the formal process outlined in the Manual for Regional Search Committees (developed by the Office of General Minister and President and the College of Regional Ministers of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada), is called to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Capital Area to serve and to lead as we enter a new phase in our life as church. The Board recognizes that a faithful response to the challenges the Region faces requires the full support of and an engaged partnership with the Regional Minister. The commitment of the Regional Board members is to provide this support and engagement with authenticity. With God’s help and the prayers and active involvement of our congregations in the life of the Region, the Regional Board believes that, with Rev. Allen V. Harris, we will become a Region that is more financially stable and better able to support our clergy and to revitalize our congregations for meaningful mission and ministry. We will be able to communicate more effectively throughout the Region, do what is needed to revitalize the Pro-reconciliation/Anti-racism Initiative, and create administrative efficiencies that continue to support and promote congregational mission and ministry that would be pleasing to God and a blessing to God’s people in the Region and beyond.
Rev. Harris, whose partner and husband is the Rev. Craig Hoffman, will initially be coming to the Capital Area alone. A mid-June date is being targeted for his arrival. Craig will remain in Cleveland in his new job for the foreseeable future.
With thanks to God for guiding the work of the Regional Minister Search Committee, we welcome Rev. Allen V. Harris as the new Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Capital Area and pray God’s blessings upon him, his leadership, and the congregations he will be serving.