Ralph W. Harris (1912-2004)
Ralph Harris, a talented youth leader, pastor and editor, was full of the zest for life and had creative genius which helped to shape and mold the Assemblies of God for decades.
Originally from Michigan, Harris graduated from Central Bible Institute with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He pastored churches in Michigan, Washington, and Missouri. In 1943, he was appointed to establish a national office in Springfield for the Assemblies of God youth program, Christ’s Ambassadors. The next year he founded Speed the Light, a highly successful youth program that gathers funds to provide transportation for missionaries.
From 1948 to 1954, Harris pastored Fremont Tabernacle in Seattle, Washington. As a means to promote reading the Bible, he recruited 1,189 people to each hand-write a chapter of the Bible. Writers of all ages from nearly 30 denominations participated in this project to complete a handwritten edition of the Bible. The local newspaper provided weekly updates of the progress and even President Truman sent a congratulatory note upon the Bible’s completion. This handwritten Bible is now on display at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center museum.
Invited back to Springfield, Missouri, Harris served as editor-in-chief for Church School Literature from 1954 to 1976. His leadership shaped Sunday school curricula in the Assemblies of God for more than two decades.
At the age of 71, Harris took on an overwhelming project that would bring great excitement to his life. He became executive editor for the Complete Biblical Library. This ambitious project entailed the coordination of authors and researchers from around the world. He oversaw translations into Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Dutch. The project included a study Bible, a Bible dictionary, commentaries on various books of the Bible, and was fully illustrated with photographs and drawings.
Harris was recognized in Who’s Who in the Midwest, Who’s Who in the United States, Who’s Who in Religion in the United States, Who’s Who in Editors and Writers of the World and Who’s Who in the World. He was also named the Central Bible College Alumnus of the Year in 1968.
After his retirement in 1976, Harris remained active. His numerous trips to the Holy Land aided him in ultimately leading many trips to the Middle East as a tour director as well as writing numerous books about Bible lands. Harris also wrote articles for the Pentecostal Evangel, Christ’s Ambassadors Herald, Advance, Assemblies of God Heritage, and a number of other publications. Not only was he led by the spirit with creativity in his articles, but he also showed another form of creativity in drawing pictures for articles published in Live. He also wrote Now What?, a booklet for new converts; Spoken by the Spirit; Acts Today; and several study guides on various topics. He passed away at the age of 91 in Springfield, Missouri.
Additional information about Ralph Harris can be found through searches on the iFPHC.org website and by viewing photographs and video clips (see the SplashCast above).
Posted by Glenn Gohr