September 16: James Allen Harrell (2003)

Jim Harrell devoted his professional life to health and children’s welfare. He was born in Dade City, Florida and graduated from Vanderbilt University with degrees in history and English. He graduated from Yale University’s Divinity School and received a master’s degree in American studies from the University of Maryland. In 1975, Jim began working for the Department of Health and Human Services, becoming a director of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. He later worked as director of planning, research and evaluation in the department’s Administration on Children, Youth and Families. The next year, he was promoted to deputy director in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. He then worked at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, focusing on child welfare and the state laws and policies that try to improve education and health services for disadvantaged families.

Jim Harrell’s professional life was simply an extension of his spiritual life, in which he proclaimed by word and example that the Kingdom of God is at hand and it is our calling to act on it. Jim had been a United Methodist Chaplain at the University of Maryland. At Epiphany, he served as junior and senior warden and volunteered with the Welcome Table ministry. Following Jim’s death, a memorial service was held at Epiphany, with contributions designated for the Welcome Table. In a sermon he preached at Epiphany a year before his passing, Jim stated, “And what this church gives to us individually – through the healing we receive, and our own sense of belonging, and a clarity about God’s Kingdom Message – is the equipment we need to be Christ…in our small and large worlds of work and relationship, to meet the needs of a world that is calling for relief and seeking the sure and certain knowledge that it has been saved.”

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