LIMA — Rev. David Harris may have preached his last sermon.
On Sunday, Harris ended his tenure at Trinity United Methodist Church in Lima and began a new journey with his wife, June, in retirement.
“I have very strongly mixed feelings. First of all, we will miss this church and this community immensely. We absolutely loved living here and serving here, and we are very proud of both the church as well as the community. We’re very excited to return for visits and continue to see the progress that’s going on,” said Harris.
Harris, who is now 65, first came to Trinity United Methodist Church 15 years ago.
Usually, in the United Methodist Church, pastors only serve four or five years at any one place, but for Harris, the decision to stay was an easy one.
“When I came to Lima in 2003, I was thinking, well I’ve got probably 15 to 16 years of ministry left, so seven or eight years here, seven or eight years in another appointment then those would be good tenures, but kind of in that mid-point, we started engaging with our significant renovations we’ve been doing here at Trinity. It was also when the Great Recession hit, and who knew how long that would last. So it was like I could move this year, but if I did, by the time a new pastor comes in and builds trust with the congregation, that would postpone the renovations another few years down the road,” he said.
Harris sees his ministry in Lima as having three distinct phases.
“The first five years of ministry was focusing on continuing to energize the congregation as an externally focused church. The second five years there were two major things there, first of all, was the merger with Grace United Methodist Church. In January 2008, when we had the tragedy in our community of Tarika Wilson, a young biracial mother being tragically killed in a drug raid that went bad. The racial tensions were very high during that winter and I invested myself very deeply in trying to build relationships with black pastors in the community that, in the first five years of my ministry here, I did not cross paths with, which I feel a bit apologetic about,” said Harris.
In the last five years, Harris was focused on renovating the church building, which included repairing stained-glass windows and renovating the pipe organ.
Over four years, $1.7 million was raised by the congregation to make the necessary improvements to the church, which is reaching a broader population than in the past.
“One of the things we’ve been delighted with in recent years is to see an increase of young families coming to Trinity. We’re discovering that the younger generations are interested in a more eclectic experience, so that’s just been a very heartening thing to see,” Harris added.
The Harrises are moving out of the Lima community to be closer to their family.
“We have bought a retirement home in Lexington, Ohio, which is just south of Mansfield, so that we are in better proximity to family. My mother, who is 90, needs more support and I’ll be able to share more of that [responsibility] with my brother and sister,” he said.
Harris’ replacement is Megan Croy who was promoted from Associate Pastor.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.
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