Rev. W. Bennett Harris, 65, of Jonestown, passed away on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, at the Hershey Medical Center. He was the husband of Robin J. Hendrix Harris. On June 8, they celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary.
Born in Tarboro, NC, on Dec. 16, 1957, he was the son of the late Wilbur C. and Carol Ann Pitt Harris.
He was a 1976 graduate of South Edgecombe HS, Pinetops, NC. He attended East Carolina University from 1976-78 but left before they kicked him out. He worked in Atlantic Beach, NC, in various jobs, trying to figure himself out until 1984, when he felt the call of God to the ministry of Word and Sacrament.
He went back to school at Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC, and graduated with honors with a degree in religion and philosophy in 1987. He went on to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, PA, and graduated with honors in Church History and a Master of Divinity in 1991. He was ordained on May 29, 1992, into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Bennett’s first call was to St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Granite Falls, NC (1992-94). He then went on to serve Daniels Lutheran Church, Lincolnton, NC, from 1994-2000. In January 2001, he moved north of the Mason-Dixon Line when he was called to serve the Mt. Zion Lutheran Parish (Zoar, Lebanon and St. John, Fredericksburg). He served there faithfully for 22 1/2 years. In 2011, he led his two congregations through the process of affiliation with the North American Lutheran Church.
Bennett loved to read theology, especially C.S. Lewis. He enjoyed golf and was very sad when his physical limitations kept him from playing. He also loved Batman, Godzilla, Turner Classic Movies, southern rock music, and anything fried with extra pepper on it. But his greatest joy was his family.
Bennett had many struggles in his life. He recovered from alcohol addiction in 1984 and remained sober since then. He battled other demons and was never shy about speaking about them to those who needed to hear. He was a human being like the rest of us.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Anna E., wife of Ben Christman, of Malden, MA, Rachel C. Harris, of Lititz, Samuel B. Harris, of Folcroft, and Lillian R. Anderson, at home; and his sister, G. Caroline Braswell, of Ayden, NC.
The viewing for Pastor Harris will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, from 5-8 p.m. at the Kreamer & Lum Funeral Home & Crematory, Jonestown. The funeral liturgy will be on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 11 a.m. at Zoar Lutheran Church, 560 Freeport Road, Lebanon, with a viewing from 9 a.m. until the start of the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Mt. Zion Parish, 560 Freeport Road, Lebanon, PA 17046.