Pastors' Memoirs

George William Harrison, 1910-1994

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George William Harrison was born in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, to George and Anna Rohland Harrison on July 4, 1910. He heard God's call to preach in 1930 and first served as a part-time preacher in the Primitive Methodist Church until a pastorate was available in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania in, 1934, where he met and married Alice Winterbottom on July 10, 1937. He is survived by his wife Alice, their daughters, Dorothy Virginia Reid and E. Ruth Axtell, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

He served other pastorates in the Primitive Methodist Church in Youngstown, Ohio, and Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, after which he served appointments in the Central Pennsylvania conference of the Methodist Church at Bendersville and Mifflintown.

George's bright mind was matched with considerable energy and he compressed his academic training over a short period of time between 1942 and 1946, receiving his degrees from Dickenson College in 1944, and Drew Theological Seminary in 1946. He also studied at Princeton and received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Randolph-Macon College in 1971.

In 1950, George moved to the Virginia conference, serving first as associate pastor at Arlington Church, followed by appointments at Springfield where he was the founding pastor, Park Place in Norfolk, and Centenary in Richmond. During his ministry of 11 years at Springfield, the church grew from its charter Sunday membership of 135 to some 2,700, and constructed its total building facility in two phases.

Upon his retirement in 1973, George and Alice made their home in Annandale, and he continued to share his ministry in various part-time capacities with Mount Olivet and Cameron churches, and maintained his friendship and supportive presence with Springfield Church.

George was extraordinarily well organized and disciplined as a pastoral administrator. He could develop a plan and inspire the confidence of others in committing themselves to that plan. He was an excellent preacher. He held a passion for integrity and authentic witness to the Gospel. His worship liturgy, his preference in church architecture, his personal tastes and lifestyle were all consistent with his strong affinity for classic Protestant plainness. George was known for his love, encouragement, gentle friendship, engaging conversation, sense of humor and the numerous notes through which his pastoral heart reached out to others.

After an illness, George entered his eternal rest on January 5, 1994. His funeral was held at Springfield Church, nearly 40 years from the date of his first worship service with its fledgling congregation. W. James Athearn and Patricia W. Olson, ministers of Springfield, officiated at the service. Burial was at Fairfax Memorial Park.

George often expressed profound gratitude for the privilege of being a part of a church that makes such a great impact on the world. We give thanks to God for the heritage that is ours through George Harrison’s witness and work.

-W. James Athearn



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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