Pastors' Memoirs

Harry T. Broome, 1922 – 2005

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  Harry Broome was born in Tarboro, North Carolina, on Sept. 8, 1922, and died in Williamsburg, Virginia, May 19, 2005. He graduated from high school in Washington, North Carolina, received an A.B. degree from Duke University in 1943 and a B.D. degree from Yale Divinity School in 1947. He was received on trial (probation) in the Virginia Conference and ordained deacon in 1947, ordained elder and received into full connection in 1949, dedicated his life to service in the ministry of The United Methodist Church and served the following appointments: Wallace Memorial Church in Fox Hill; Christ UMC, Norfolk; Wesley UMC, Vienna; Cradock UMC, Portsmouth; Lincolnia UMC, Alexandria; Park Place UMC, Norfolk; Dulin UMC, Falls Church; and Cameron UMC, Alexandria until his retirement in 1987. After retirement he served as assistant minister at Epworth and Larchmont United Methodist churches, Norfolk.

  Harry served on the conference board of hospitals and homes and the conference Commission on Worship, and the Board of Church and Society.

  Church members recall Harry’s compassion for the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Also his willingness to stand for his convictions regardless of the costs, such as the time when, as president of the Portsmouth Ministerial Association, he led a march through the city in protest over the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr.

  Harry had a broad concern for God’s people across his world especially in support of two dear friends Marjorie and Dana Tyson’s ministry in the Philippines. Harry participated in a pulpit exchange with a sister Methodist church in Seoul, Korea, and was touched and moved to bring his experience home and make real the connectedness of the United Methodists.

  Upon embarking on a new appointment, Harry would embrace each new community showing special kindness and caring friendships that would endure across the years.

  Parishioners speak of his good sermons and unfailing devotion to our precious Savior. Countless times he had "been there" when needed; driving those with no means to the hospital to visit a relative, holding the hands of those coming to grips with the loss of a loved one, and bringing God so close to us all.

  Once, Harry came to see someone who told him he should not have come because they were not sick enough to warrant a visit from someone who had so many obligations, and Harry’s response was, "sometimes I like to see someone who can cheer me up, too." They were thrilled he had come.

  Other jobs praised by Harry’s parishioners include Christmas tree lot setter-upper, tree unloader, chief waiter and bus boy at the mother-daughter banquet and church breakfasts, lead piano player and fill-in program guest at many monthly meetings — all qualifying references for membership in any United Methodist Men’s group.

  Harry loved the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in particular the Nags Head area and even composed a piece for the piano that was resplendent with the sounds of crashing waves upon the shore which, when alone or when prompted, he played to any listener’s delight and surprise.

  Harry also held a special love and respect for nature with all its plants and creatures, delighting in pointing out wildflowers, examining rocks and seashells, feeding the birds and planting beds of daffodil and crocus bulbs at every parsonage. He brought an awareness of God’s constant love in the beauty of nature.

  Once, when the nephew of a parishioner and friend came to him to get married wanting only the plain "I take thee..." part and no family, Harry did so with Janet the only witness and she bearing a camera and furnishing a cake.

  His children, Alan and Fran, remember first a long black robe with lots of waves that would encircle them in a big, giant hug. They could get happily lost under those folds and folds of smooth, cool robe. Even as a toddler, Alan would sometimes slip out of the pew just as his daddy walked down the aisle after the benediction and fall in step behind, secure in the knowledge that no one would notice him just behind that flowing robe. They remember sitting with their mom, who would remember something important or see someone in the congregation he needed to know was there. Lots of "mysterious" notes were slipped to the usher and passed as offering plates were collected. They remember him going to conference every year for a week. It seemed so long. He always brought each of them a surprise home in his suitcase. That was fun.

  There was Harry in a jogging suit. We remember the jogging suit because it reminds us of the concern we felt when he was in for heart surgery, and the gratitude we felt when God raised him up to his continued service and he came back better than ever.

  Harry described his wife, Janet, as "the perfect minister’s wife, with the beautiful smile." She took the components of everyday life and transformed them into elements of joy and inspiration.

  Harry spoke these words at another’s retirement and I repeat them here "You never really leave a place you love…part of it you take with you, leaving a part of you behind."

  Harry truly walked in the steps of the Master and led others to Christ.

"We thank our God for every remembrance of you." (Phil 1:3)

— Fran Lane



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