Former ABHMS staff member, pastor, Rev. Richard G. Harris dies

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 05/28/2024)—The Rev. Richard G. Harris (Rick), 78, former national manager of American Baptist Personnel Services (ABPS) at American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), died May 22, 2024, in Paoli, Pennsylvania. He was born July 8, 1945, in Oxford, North Carolina.

Prior to coming to ABHMS, Harris served 26 years as senior pastor, First Baptist Church of North Oxford, Massachusetts. During this time, he was also executive minister of the Northern Baptist Education Society in Dedham, Massachusetts. He served on the pastoral staff of two additional churches in Massachusetts—First Baptist, Watertown and First Baptist, Boston.

Throughout his ministry, Harris sought to help people discern what God wanted for their lives. Whether an individual was hearing a call to ministry, or a church was discerning God’s will for leadership, Harris believed in the promise given in Revelation 3:20— “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in.” “My job is to encourage people to open the door of their hearts and minds,” Harris said. “When we do, God is always there to help us find our way.”

“Rick Harris was committed to walking with those called to ministry through the search process and helping them access resources for continuing education and networking,” said Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, ABHMS executive director and CEO of Judson Press. “He also recognized that one of our core values as American Baptists is that we are all called to ministry whether we occupy the pulpit or pew.”

Following his retirement, Harris spent a year as interim minister on the pastoral team of the First Baptist Church, Beverly, Massachusetts. He was an active member of Central Baptist Church in Wayne, Pennsylvania. He has also served on the ABC Chaplaincy Endorsement Committee, the Board of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America – Bautistas por la Paz, and the national Senate of the Ministers Council of the American Baptist Churches USA.

Harris loved the theater and orchestra and regularly attended Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia, People’s Light in Malvern, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. An avid traveler, he visited most of the states in the U.S. and many countries in Europe and Asia.

A man of grace and good humor, Harris was full of life and love. He is survived by his wife, Anne, his daughter, Ericka, and his brothers David and Douglas. A celebration of his life will take place later. This release will be updated accordingly.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.