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the many faces of bill harritt


the many faces of bill harritt

Bill Harritt is widely known across the church as Director of Junior High Ministry. Bill began his tenure at Southwood in May 2005 and quickly found his place among our seventh and eighth graders. Bill is leaving Southwood and moving to St. Louis, MO mid-August to begin his studies towards a Masters of Divinity at Covenant Theological Seminary. Bill’s desire to develop a sound theological base for ministry and to become well-equipped to pastor is what takes him there. Southwood was the ground where Bill has come to love youth ministry. He expressed gratefulness for the training he received in ministering here while serving kids. He has learned much from ministry at Southwood that prepares him for his studies and a deeper application of what he will be learning in his seminary studies. Recently, when asked what he has learned, Bill answered, “Ministry is not done by the staff or pastors of a church. The most meaningful and fruit-bearing ministry is done by the people of the church - the people who worship next to each other in the pews; who serve alongside each other cooking meals for a crowd; the people who are part of this local body called Southwood.”

Bill has ministered not only to our covenant junior high students but to a larger host of junior high students in our community. Our students are not the only folks who have loved Bill. His imprint can be found in places outside youth ministry. Bill has traveled to college campuses to connect with our students who have graduated. He has stayed with many children while parents were out of town becoming a ‘single’ parent with carpools, homework, school work, and more. Our younger children discovered Bill through his skits and work at Vacation Bible School. And more importantly, Bill connected to his church family through time in their homes and with their children, many who are not even near youth ministry age.

Bill, the Uncle in the words of Leah and Josh Treen
Last year our 3 year old son, Lake, studied the letter “U” at preschool. His preschool teacher asked all the kids in the class to name their Uncles—for the letter “U”.  Among his list of blood-related Uncles–Lake listed “Uncle Bill.” Bill has come to mean so much to our family over the past few years. We have labored alongside of Bill in VBS leadership for the past 3 years at Southwood. His heart for the youth of Southwood is evident, but we were among those privileged to see his heart for the children of Southwood as well. He has been a part of both of our kids’ lives…playing and laughing and discipling and showering gifts as any good “Uncle” should.  He was at the hospital the day our daughter was born. He was at the family celebration for our daughter’s baptism. Our son’s room is full of toys from Uncle Bill. We have enjoyed meals together and fellowship in our home. Bill is a man of humor, and love, and conviction, and loyalty.  He is a true example of a servant-leader. And although we are so happy for Bill and the Lord’s calling on his life–our family will feel a huge hole once he leaves Huntsville. No one will ever be able to replace “Uncle Bill”which means our next family vacation may have to include a trip west to the Seminary-land holding our Uncle Bill.

Bill, the Director in the words of our youth
After polling senior and junior high kids, it seems fitting to put in their exact words when thinking of Bill. Many things are ministry specific but bring a smile to all. Jello fights. Life size Winnie the Pooh. Pharaoh. Slipping and Sliding. Tea pots and noses. Team Boom. He is funny. Captain Extreme. He is loud. Bill makes me laugh. Bill gets in my personal space. Bill loves Jesus. Bill is buff. Bill cares about me. Bill loves my kids - even when I don’t. Bill is crazy. Bill’s pink shirt is cool. Bill dressed up when we joined the church. That was cool. Wednesday nights are never the same. You never know what to expect. Bill’s Mystery meetings are gross and cool, kinda nasty when you’re hot and sticky. Bill is the best leader of all at The Edge. Other kids are jealous of us having Bill. I like to tackle Bill. Bill likes to be right about everything. He calls me punk—he hasn’t used my real name in a long time. I will be really sad when Bill is gone cause no one likes to get dirty and gross us out like he does. Bill is a fun crew leader. He never let me get away with anything. Bill wants me to love Jesus. Bill reminds us to be Jesus to our friends at school.

Bill, the Friend
Bill found a group of men to surround himself with. His small group of five men (all married but Bill) have walked through the last two years developing the spiritual disciplines and growing deeper in Christ together. Bill has sought men in and outside the realm of youth ministry to speak into his life. His Monday nights have been spent around the dinner table in the home of one of our longtime members as he and friends in his life group laugh, reflect, and celebrate life. Bill sees ministry is important but connecting to the larger church is as important.

Bill, the Legend in the words of Chip and Michelle Sullins
As I found out in the Spring of 2008 Bill Harritt is the real deal, not just a myth or fable. I certainly knew who Bill was but it was not until I worked alongside of him with VBS 2008 that I really got to know him.  There are lots of people in this world with a true love for the Lord.  There are lots of people with heart and enthusiasm, but I have never seen all of those things meshed together in quite this way.  Who else could model Christ by serving at Harvest Heyday, yet do it in a Winnie the Pooh suit? Not only did Bill totally win me over with his willingness to come and serve the “future” of his ministry, but his attention to even our smallest members is unmatched.  When we were working on VBS, my youngest child was only 5 years old. Bill went out of his way to pay attention to him every time he was around. My 5 year old was seven years away from being in Junior High, but Bill made (and still makes) him feel like a superstar. I love his ability to reach out across ministries and bridge that gap. Bill reminds me that the kids of Southwood are worth not only our time but our enthusiasm. No one lives out the saying “go big or go home” better than the legendary Bill Harritt!

No matter where Bill has been, his humor, affection and sense of being part of the bigger picture, a church family, have left a mark on us. Bill’s daily presence in and among us, whether students in junior high, little ones in the hall or at a dinner table or birthday party, will be missed. His love for Jesus, his servant’s heart and his thirst after God’s heart will be gifts to those he will meet in St. Louis, just as they have been to many here. As Bill has faithfully served us, we can serve him in the coming months by praying for him.

• Pray his transition from work life to a student’s life in the classroom and in studies will be filled with encouragement and few bumps.
• Pray for the new relationships on campus, in class and with professors to   be easily established.
• Pray for his studies to be consistent as he begins Greek, sermon preparation and covenant theology.
• Pray Bill will be able to quickly identify a church family and connect to a local body of believers.