NEW CONCORD, Oh. (BNc) by David R. Kenney — While my family and I were returning home from Seattle from attending our niece’s high-school graduation, I received word that Glen Richmond Harris had passed away at 4:00 am, Friday, June 20.
While this news was not exactly a surprise, it certainly was not welcomed. Glen has been a dear friend of our family for many years. We certainly loved his first wife, Helen, and now his second wife after Helen’s decease, Mary. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary and the entire Harris family during this difficult period.
My first recollection of Glen and Helen goes back to his first located work at Streetsboro, Ohio, from 1974 to 1984. I recall our family visit to the Harris’ house was also on our way to go to Sea World when I was a young boy, and we enjoyed our time with the family.
Years later while eating with them, Helen told me I was sitting in the exact same seat, at the same table and in the same house where I had sat at years ago. She took great delight in telling me that.
Glen and Helen would return to work with the Streetsboro congregation from 1992 to 1994. There were joys during this period, but there were also many sorrows for the Harris family who lost their son David R. Harris to cancer. In 1991, my wife and I had relocated to Ohio and were worshiping with the Streetsboro congregation.
So, we were able to get to know Glen (and Helen) more closely. There are several impressions that Glen made upon me that I would like to share with you.
Never think you have outgrown the Bible
Sadly, there are those who foolishly think that they have mastered the Bible so they give it little thought in later years. These fail to realize, and rob themselves, of the counsel the Bible provides not only for all facets but all stages of our lives.
Glen did not make this mistake. One day I was in his study and he asked me what I thought a certain verse in the Psalms meant. I hesitated, but he encouraged me to give it my best guess. When I told him what I thought, he replied “I have had the same view for many years, but now at my age I wonder if it may mean …” I thought about it and told him that his perspective seemed closer to the mark.
He believed that he had reached the stage of life where he could now more fully understand what God was telling him. I have never forgotten that!
Remember, God is infinite, we are finite. It is arrogant to think that a finite being can master the work of an infinite mind.
History is great fun but do not neglect its teaching
Glen and I loved to talk about Restoration History. I was delighted he was able to come to Cane Ridge, Ky., for the Cane Ridge Restoration Workshop while we were there.
We were able to walk the cemetery together in Lexington and stand at the graves of John W. McGarvey, Robert Milligan, Raccoon John Smith, and others. We stood together for a picture at the grave of Barton W. Stone at Cane Ridge. We stood in the pulpit where restoration leaders of the past stood and proclaimed “Back to the Bible!”
While we knew these men were fallible, we realized there were great sacrifices made and valuable lessons to be learned. Many of these lessons the next generations need to learn from history, or they will learn these from experience which is much harder. Indeed, as my father reminds me, “We are standing on the shoulders of giants.”
God loves people, we must love them, too
Glen’s youngest son commented on his love of visiting people:
“As many of you know, Dad’s favorite thing to do was to visit with people. He was always truly 100% devoted to the Lord and to his family (both physical blood and through the blood of Christ).”
Some lose sight of prioritizing their affections and fail to subordinate family love to the love of Christ and His family. Glen did not do this.
There were no doubts that Glen was going to stand for the truth, Christ’s truth, regardless of family. If you were standing for the right, you could count on Glen to stand with you.
Love servants of the Lord
Glen had a special collection of photographs he had collected over the years of preachers he had met during his career. One of my favorite things to do when visiting him was to look through that book together with him.
He took great delight in pointing out my father’s picture from some time back in the early 1970s in his collection. I was humbled that he would add my photograph too.
Glen loved servants of Christ, whether they were elders, deacons, teachers, but he had a special love of preachers. He cherished being a part of what I refer to as the Fraternal Order of Preachers!
Do not overlook youth
I recall Glen talking about having difficulty holding a cup of hospital coffee because the cup was so thin it was burning his fingers. A young boy told him to hold the cup with his pinky on the bottom and thumb on the top rather than trying to cup it with your hand. It worked!
Glen pointed out that this young boy, who did not even drink coffee, taught him something even though he had been drinking hot coffee for years. Glen loved young people and never marginalized them.
Be a hard-fighting soldier
Due to Glen’s friendship with Lorenzo Collins, I became fast friends with brother Collins. Brother Collins was a preacher who knew Marshall Keeble.
Lorenzo told me that he and his wife had gone to visit Glen at a special gathering, and Glen took him and his wife Miss Freddie around to introduce them to all his friends. It did not matter to Glen what others may have thought about the color of their skin.
Glen measured by the blood of Christ, not the color of a person’s skin. This made a great impression on Lorenzo.
As I attended the memorial service for brother Collins, who passed away on June 26, 2013, I recall one of the songs that was led. As we sang, “And I’ll be bringing souls to Jesus, by the service that I yield”, I thought of them both—two hard-fighting soldiers who have now both left the battlefield.
At the funeral service for Glen, Sam Bartrug summed up matters well when he said “What Glen Harris called hope, he now calls home.”
Glen Harris’ favorite song was “I’ll Fly Away”, and so he has. We will take our flight soon! Be ready!
David R. Kenney preaches with the Wadsworth, Oh., church.