Pastors' Memoirs

Harry Griffith Balthis, 1911-1987

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Harry Griffith Balthis was born August 8, 1911 in Montgomery County, Maryland, a son of Joseph H. and Verda Griffith Balthis. His father and grandfather were ministers of the Baltimore conference. Harry spent his early life in Methodist parsonages in the communities where his father's duties took him. In 1930 he entered Randolph-Macon College and graduated four years later with Phi Beta Kappa honors and as a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership fraternity. Harry continued his education at Yale Divinity School and received his Bachelor of Divinity degree from that institution. In 1958 he was honored by his alma mater, Randolph-Macon, with the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.

Harry Balthis began his career in the Virginia conference in 1939 when he was appointed as junior preacher to Braddock Street Church, Winchester, with the express duty of organizing a church that was to become Montague Avenue Church. He served Montague Avenue and reopened Greenwood Church. Other appointments served include Oakton, Arlington Forest, Central (Staunton), Walker Chapel, Main Street (Waynesboro), and Fairlington. From 1954 to 1962 he was the executive secretary of the Board of Education of the Virginia conference.

The church recognized Harry Balthis' abilities and repeatedly called on him to serve on many conference boards and commissions. His interest and talents in the field of Christian education enabled him to make a large contribution to this field of endeavor.

Harry Balthis was never narrowly sectarian. He had a broad outlook and was interested in ecumenical affairs. In every community in which he lived he became involved in the cooperative endeavors of the various denominations. He served as president of the Arlington Council of Churches in the early 1950s. For a number of years he was chairman of the Division of Christian Education of the Virginia Council of Churches.

On September 18, 1937, Harry married Miss Evelyn Gay, a lady of culture and refinement, who loyally supported Harry in his ministry. To this happy union were born three children who, with his widow, survive him. The children are: Ms. Gay Brown of St. Louis, Missouri, H. Griffith Balthis of Elkton, Maryland, and Charles David Balthis of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He is

also survived by two brothers: David L. Balthis of Ellicott City, Maryland, and Dr. Joseph H. Balthis of Hockessin, Delaware, and four grandchildren.

After Harry's retirement in 1976, he and Evelyn returned to Waynesboro to a lovely home they had purchased some time earlier. For several years he served as the retired associate minister of Main Street Church. In 1985, as a token of their love and esteem, the congregation of Main Street named him their minister emeritus.

Death came to Harry Balthis on August 16, 1987 at his home in Waynesboro. A memorial service was held at the church on August 20, attended by a large gathering of friends and fellow ministers. The service was conducted by the Rev. Paul Bailey and the Rev. Robinson H. McAden.

Harry Balthis was a man of great integrity, keen intellect, and administrative skill. He was always in the forefront of those who sought to lead the church into areas of larger service and social responsibility. There was never anything reactionary about Harry Balthis. He was indeed a statesman of the church. And while he dealt effectively with great issues and large concerns, he was always ;) good pastor to the people committed to his charge. He was a faithful and effective shepherd. To his fellow ministers he was ;) discreet, confident, and wise counselor. We shall not soon see his like again.

-Robert Harris Kesler

 

 

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