Pastors' Memoirs

Henry Clifton Renner, 1924-1996

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Harry C. Renner was born in Round Hill, Virginia, on September 16, 1924. God called him to his heavenly home on June 27, 1996. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lived for 10 months.

Harry graduated from Shepherd College and Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C. He served churches in Staunton, Culpeper, Charlottesville and the Winchester districts. He was a member of the Ministerial Association, zone leader, president, and chaplain of the Ruritan Club. He also served on the board of the Salvation Army. He accepted Christ at the age of 13 and always wanted to serve his master.

Harry and Vivian Hott were married in 1956. They have two sons, Leonard and David; one daughter, Rebecca Johnson; a daughter-in-law, Sandy and son-in-law, Kenny; two grandchildren, Eric and Scott Johnson. The family express their love for this husband and father, for the high standard he lived by and taught us. He was truly an example of Christianity and a wonderful patient during his illness.

Harry fought a valiant fight against brain cancer while continuing his pastorate at Gainesboro and Laurel Hill Charge until several months before his death. His love and support for Christ’s church was evidenced in every area of his life. When he was not involved in the activities of Gainesboro, he attended Braddock Street and was an active member of the Wesley Fellowship and United Methodist Men. Some Sundays might find him and Vivian at Stephens City United Methodist Church where his son, David, serves as minister of music or still on other occasions at worship with another son and daughter.

To keep the Ten Commandments and to follow the teachings of Jesus were his highest priorities. So devout was he in keeping the Sabbath that on Sunday he never shopped or ate out, devoting the day instead to worship, visiting, and enjoying his home and family.

Harry and Vivian loved to travel and those who accompanied them on many trips abroad will not forget the kindness and helpfulness of the southern gentleman who always helped everyone with luggage, packages and directions. The joy of every trip was greatly enhanced by the presence of Harry and Vivian, a fun-loving, happy couple.

In addition to his pastoral duties, which he attended with love, expertise and commitment, Harry was active in the Winchester community serving as a member of the board of directors of the Salvation Army, and holding offices in the Ruritan Club and the Ministerial Association. He had great compassion for the destitute and opened his heart and pocketbook to anyone in need while accepting them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Harry was interested in things of nature and took great pride in having a fine garden which he shared with family and friends. So neat and immaculate was this avid gardener that Jack Minnick commented in his farewell eulogy, "Harry’s the only man I know who gardens in his coat and tie."

The funeral service was a beautiful tribute at Braddock St. United Methodist Church in Winchester, Virginia, with District Superintendent Jack Minnick; Pastor John Peters, the Rev. Charles Harless, the Rev. Carl Moore from the Winchester Church of God, and Ruth Crum. Burial was in Rest Church Cemetery in Clearbrook, Virginia. Harry would tell us the story of this poem if he could tell us one more thing:

I’m Free

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free.

I’m following the path God laid for me.

I took His hand when I heard Him call.

I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day

to laugh, to love, to work or play.

Tasks left undone, must stay that way.

I found that peace at close of day.

If my parting has left a void,

then fill it with remembered joy.

A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,

ah yes, these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow,

I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.

My life’s been full, I savored much —

good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.

Perhaps my times seemed all too brief.

Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.

Lift up you hearts and share with me.

God wanted me now: He set me free.


- Vivian H. Renner



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