Pastors' Memoirs

Frankie Jean Harris, 1934-1999

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  My mother, the Rev. Frankie Jean Harris, died on Holy Saturday, April 3, 1999, the day before Easter. In the days before her death, her family gathered around her in her hospital room to keep her company and to give one another strength. Medical personnel and visitors who passed by Mama’s door during those days heard laughter, singing, Scripture and storytelling. Mama wanted it that way. She told us over and over again that her passing was to be celebrated. She knew she was going to join her Heavenly Father. She looked forward with hope and faith over the 3-1/2 years of her battle with cancer to the day when she would join Him in Heaven. She said she was going to ask God to assign her a lion when she got there. She explained that she had always wanted a really big cat. She had faith that God would grant her that wish.

  She gave to her children the gift of faith and active participation with a church family from an early age. Growing up, we were in church every Sunday. My sister and brothers and I recall fondly how Mama would spot with her eagle eyes, a dirt spot we had missed while washing. She would spit on a tissue and clean the spot off our faces right there in the pew. We squirmed and fussed, but we were cleaned. When we were older, she sang in the choir. She was always seated in the choir loft where she could see us. All it took for us to behave was one delicately raised eyebrow from Mama. We straightened up immediately for we knew that the depth of our trouble had a direct correlation with how high that eyebrow went. Mama was a woman of many talents. She was an accomplished musician and singer, artist, homemaker, business woman, counselor and pastor.

  Mama was born in Singers Glen, Virginia, on May 15, 1934. She was a lay minister for a number of years before being ordained in 1994. She was the minister of Mount Bethel and Crimora United Methodist churches. Her memberships included the Fellowship of Local Pastors of the Virginia Conference and the Harrisonburg District Partners in Ministry. There are many things for which Mama will be remembered. Her family, friends and church family most want you to know about her great faith.

  Mama’s faith gave her incredible courage. Her trust in God gave her peace. She told me several months before she died that her favorite hymn was "Great is Thy Faithfulness." She said she could never sing the words without tears in her eyes and a lump in her throat. She explained that "the words sum up for me, God’s love and faith. He has been so good to me." I admit I was stunned. To hear of God’s goodness to her when her body was so ravaged by cancer was more than I could take in for a moment. But such was her love of God and her deep faith.

  On Easter Sunday, the day Mama was buried on a hilltop in Singers Glen, 12 persons were brought into her church as a result of her ministry. I can see my mother watching contentedly from Heaven, her lion at her side as those persons were welcomed into her church family. I believe that God turned to her and said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Great was thy faithfulness to me."

— The Frankie Harris Family
Dillina W. Stickley, Dianna L. Chandler, Charles C. Wimer
Robert C. Wimer, III, Samuel Morris



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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