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Video: Kendall Harmon on Leadership, Part 2

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 • 6:00 am

Sarah Hey recently spoke with Dr. Harmon about leadership. This is the second of a 5-part series.  In this segment, Dr. Harmon speaks about his call to leadership, its relationship with his gifts, and how his call has shifted.  He also talks about his role models for leadership, his own metaphor as a leader, and his studies at Regent and Oxford.

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Somebody has a kitty cat!  >^.^<  (meowing about 7 minutes in)

Interesting to hear some of Canon Harmon’s family history and how he came to the Faith.

[1] Posted by Jill C. on 08-01-2007 at 10:41 PM • top

Sheepdog, there is a sermon ( text and audio) at the old site with some interesting biographical material on it.

[2] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 08-01-2007 at 11:08 PM • top


I’d be interested in hearing more about what Kendall’s grandfather said to him (You know - those thoughtful remarks.  E.g., “Be true to your after-self”). 

I’ve got at least one young person in my life who would benefit from this.  No doubt, there will be more, later on.

[3] Posted by J Eppinga on 08-02-2007 at 04:50 AM • top


This is a great interview.  I have no doubt that Dr. Harmon is a brilliant church leader and theologian, and Anglican networker.

But please, stop interviewing clerics for a while.  Find involved laypeople.  They’re the ones paying the bills.  All this talk about “THE CALL OF GOD”, as though it only happens to the clergy.  It is nonsense, and a big part of the problem we find ourselves in today.

Perhaps one of our greatest sins, and it seems to be written into our very fabric, is the sin of clericalism.  There is another word for it:  superstition.

If Christ speaks to all who would seek him earnestly, then it may be that car salesman struggling on the lot in Spartanburg or somewhere that is a true leader in this church, not the protected class that we call the clergy. I know that our polity says that priests and bishops lead the church, but it has to a large degree stopped working.

Best regards to Dr. Harmon.  I love your stuff!

[4] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-02-2007 at 08:08 AM • top

Tom, I agree that we need to celebrate lay leaders.  Paul did so as he signed off on several of his Epistles.  “Pay the bills” might sound crass to some, but I do recognize that lay peoples’ sacrificial giving is God’s provision for so much of ministry.
At the same time, we shouldn’t lose sight of the Bible’s emphasis on clergy as the spiritual teachers and leaders of God’s people.  The New Testament has specific information on ordained (consecrated) leaders, and even some pointed verses on how congregations should emulate their way of life, obey and support them.  The New Testament doesn’t talk about vestries/boards/committees, although it recognizes liberal givers and administrators as important to the life of the body.

[5] Posted by Northern Plains Anglicans on 08-02-2007 at 08:21 AM • top

Tom I agree that the call is not merely for clergy and am not certain where I implied that.  You are the one noticing the fact that he is clergy—I merely notice that he is a human being who happens to have become a leader.  ; > )

But just for you . . .

[6] Posted by Sarah on 08-02-2007 at 11:36 AM • top


I read the link about your discussion with Doug Spangler.  It was great.  However, even with the laypeople, the discussion seems to always get back to the bishop or the priests, or what is happpening inside the church proper, which is typically controlled by clerics.  It as if we serve at the pleasure of them.

You said “When he’s not working, he’s…...doing church work, which we will now talk about (my paraphrase).”  How about interviewing one of these laypeople inside the factory, the law firm, or on the car lot and let them talk about how the Episcopal church is affecting how they really live and work, when they aren’t occupying themselves with “church work”.  I fear for the results of your findings.  In most cases, you will find that their relationship to their churches affects their daily lives not one whit.

That is why we go on and on these blogs about stuff we think is important, which always involves clergy and their positions on this or that, and the rest of the world (and the church) is just moving along, dealing with their lives, and shaking their heads.

And Sarah, I think what you do is just great.  I am a tremendous fan of yours, as you know.  Keep it up.

[7] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-02-2007 at 12:56 PM • top


Scripture talks about pastors, evangelists, healers, prophets, et. al.  Some folks in more conservative denominations call this the “fivefold ministry”.  They are to be respected, and their ministries should be celebrated, and God should be praised because of their giftings.

It does not say, however, that these ministers must go to seminary, wear collars, and become members of a protected class.  Paul said if you don’t work, you don’t eat.  This was in addition to their preaching or teaching.

This is not to demean the solid work of Dr. Harmon.  It is just in 49 years, I have only met one clergy person who really understood what it was to meet a payroll, make a sale, or run a business, and she was a woman. Of the “cradle clerics” I have known, it was they who frequently resisted anyone trying to make the church run more like a business.

And business is much more in touch with how people live today than the church.  It is more prophetic.  The church didn’t create the I-phone, business did.

I think the salvation or defeat of the church lives in the true ministers, those who don’t wear a collar.  Look at where the ones that do wear collars have led us!

And I love my buddies in the priesthood!

[8] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-02-2007 at 01:32 PM • top


RE: “and let them talk about how the Episcopal church is affecting how they really live and work, when they aren’t occupying themselves with “church work”.

I am sorry to say that I do not think that the Episcopal church affects their everyday life a bit, save for the added burden of grief and pain that the church adds to their shoulders as they deal with other issues.  But Tom . . . this is a site about the Episcopal church.  When I interview folks for StandFirm I’m afraid that I ask them about . . . the Episcopal church, mostly. 

And when a layperson works within the Episcopal church and engages the political process he finds therein, like a clown that jumps out of the box, there are the [drum roll] clergy and bishops!  So it is truly impossible for a layperson to be involved in church politics as Doug is and not mention bishops and clergy, especially as, in the case of SW Florida, they were in the midst of a bishop search process.

First you say “interview a layperson”, then when I supply it, you say “you didn’t ask him about non-church matters.”

Can ye ‘no be pleased, then?

; > )

[9] Posted by Sarah on 08-02-2007 at 02:52 PM • top


First of all, I didn’t mean that I am displeased with your interview, and if it sounded so, then I am truly sorry.

Second, I would never criticise what you are doing, because it is selfless and truly from a good heart.  A heart that desires to please God.

Third, none of this makes much sense to the average person in the pews, as you just admitted, and I am afraid it isn’t helping them much.

In “What is Anglicanism”, Orombi, who is now my Archbishop, talks about the celebration that occurred at an ordination or consecration when the bishop asked two opposing sides of parishioners to amend a broken relationship that had occurred over cattle rustling.  Cattle are the lifeblood of the way these folks support themselves.  Our equivalent might be if the church got involved in healing involving a nasty proxy fight, or a labor dispute, or a basketball game that broke out in a riot.

[10] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-02-2007 at 04:07 PM • top

It does not say, however, that these ministers must go to seminary, wear collars, and become members of a protected class.  Paul said if you don’t work, you don’t eat.

Well Tom, you have strong support for your logic from the Anabaptist root of Protestantism, while most have been over taken with this seminary business (though forgoing the uncomfortable collars), the Mennonites are true to your heart still.

As one who held a ‘man of the cloth’ in esteem in my family, I’d challenge the fact they don’t work. Granted I’ve met many on church staff that I’ve pondered if they were the best use of resources and priest in charge of pastoral care that never replied to request for help and many other wonderful examples that prove your point exactly. However, there are numerous others who work their tail off! A lot of our trouble is many are just too busy to parish ministry to have any energy for ecclesiastical politics. Yet all the while hearing how they only work one day a week, yet sermon must be done, parish finances (uh oh, sounds like business) cared after, hospital visitations, of course the phone is always on for those family emergencies. My current pastor is busier than I, running from here to there, doing a series of marriage counseling, still me with issues, other with theirs and our parish events and a family. Ask our intern, he got to run his tail off too this summer.

As for St. Paul, while it is true he did not collect from his congregations, he noted it was his right to do so then he stated his reason why he did not.

I’ve enjoyed this series. I’d be envious you have access to such folks, except you’re kind enough to share with us. I appreciate what Kendall had to say about fallen people dealing with dark subjects. The reality is quite overwhelming, I think we NEED to explore them but only in the power of God’s grace.

I’m looking forward to the next few interviews in this series.

[11] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 08-02-2007 at 04:10 PM • top


We are just so “in the box” about the way we think about church.  I have no desire to become Baptist, the successors to the Anabaptists, I believe.  I am an Anglican.  It is just that we tend to worship our priests.

We need to be clear about what the nature of a priest is.  Because in many religions, priest means one who speaks to God on behalf of the people.  As a somewhat reformed version of Catholicism, Anglicans have priests, but we don’t really think of them the same way some other expressions of the Christian faith and other religious traditions do. 

When we think of a “leader” in the church, it is usually a priest.  But who are the true leaders?  Is it really the guy or woman taking the paycheck, or the person making that possible?  Once again, look where our “leaders” have led us.  Is it possible that it is not the fault of the leaders themselves, but of the impossible role thrust on them by the symbolism of the collar?  You see, Catholic priests wear collars too, but it means something categorically different to be a Catholic priest than an Anglican one.

I have seen so many lay people go spiritually slack jawed when a priest walks into the room.  This is not as it should be.  We talk about their “Call” to being a priest, but we don’t talk about my “Call” to be in the investment business as though that were as important to the church, or your call to own a dry cleaning business.

Perhaps that is just part of why the Episcopal church finds itself in such a fix.  If it were a business, it would be declared non-functional by its trustees.  To keep worrying about what clerics like Dr. Radner or Dr. Harmon or Susan Russell or Ed Bacon think is perhaps disingenuous, because they all get their paychecks from…....TEC! 

That’s why corporations have boards of directors.  Now you will tell me that TEC is a bicameral form of government like the USA, and so on, but it’s missing a strong executive branch and judiciary, so it is not an entirely fair comparision.

Perhaps this form has just run its course.

[12] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-02-2007 at 04:34 PM • top

If it were a business, it would be declared non-functional by its trustees.

Well I have heard it said that ministry is the easiest path to “leadership” with the least education. Sadly in some sense it is true. If you don’t mind a rural location just about anyone can be a priest in some struggling parish. While I agree there needs to be a well trained lay leadership and the Church suffers if it does not exist (as well as clergy who’ll overwork themselves).

I’ll disagree on your take of clergy and role of clergy (my take is probably more Catholic than yours in some sense). Sometimes the “church boss” is the very root of the problem, we’ve not had leadership in the clergy. Now we have strong executive leadership but all in a direction of self-destruction.

However maybe fully agree on dysfunction should have been addressed long ago and equal value for God’s calls of business investment, dry cleaners (????—Oh sure) or motherhood and other callings.

Back somewhat on topic, I think Kendalls InterVastity section does have something to speak towards that, maybe not one to one, but being Christ to an unbelieving world outside the cozy environment of the parish or the odd way God calls him to follow opportunities as an editor. As well as the importance of people to encourage use of gifts.

[13] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 08-02-2007 at 05:32 PM • top

RE: “Third, none of this makes much sense to the average person in the pews, as you just admitted, and I am afraid it isn’t helping them much.”

Tom, the average person in the pews is not on this web site nor has he or she ever heard the name “Kendall Harmon” or “Doug Spangler” or “T19” or “AAC” or “Susan Russell”.  I just don’t write or do much of anything for the average person in the pew—they simply are not here, or even thinking about this stuff.  I am very sorry about that, too.

But if you will note, I did not say that “none of this” makes much sense, in the sense of church politics.  I believe that the interview with Doug Spangler makes an enormous amount of sense for people [lay and clergy] in the Episcopal church who are deeply interested in what it takes to renew or reform or strengthen the church in their local setting.  But as we both agree, most people [lay or clergy] are not interested in such matters, unfortunately . . . which is sort of the point of doing a series on leadership.

What does it take to be a true leader?  It takes a recognition of a call from God.  It takes character.  It takes competence.  It takes community.  Kendall speaks about all four and more.  And I think that the interview with Kendall will make an enormous amount of sense for people [lay and clergy] in the Episcopal church who are deeply interested in, concerned, and convicted about the crisis of leadership that our church is experiencing.  My favorite sections are the last two . . . for reasons I will explain later.

But . . . my little “will you ‘no be pleased” was tongue in cheek.  ; > )  I’m not offended or hurt.  It’s a good interplay we’ve had.

[14] Posted by Sarah on 08-02-2007 at 05:41 PM • top

And I’ve got to get to where I can trust clergy again.  Thanks for your patience.

[15] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-02-2007 at 06:24 PM • top

Could we have a thread where we just tell “Episcopal” stories, talk about our favorite hymns, or even tell jokes about being Episcopalian?

Where I grew up, being Episcopalian was, at times, “whiskey cured”, as Walker Percy would say.  My grandmother made the needlepoint kneelers for the little church in Eastern KY where we grew up.  It was incredibly time and labor intensive, and could never be purchased today.  On Christmas Eve, they got everybody who had a pulse to sing in the choir.  If you had lit a match in the choir stalls, the place would have exploded.  Thus the term, whiskeypalians.  This was in the late 50s, early 60s when I was just a baby.

My grandmother was of the crowd that read “O ye Jigs and Juleps”, perhaps a predecessor to those books that lady writes about the little town and the Episcopal priest.

There were no liberals among that crowd.  They mined coal by day, had a drink in the evening, and a few more on the weekend, and prayed hard on Sunday. 

There was a distrust of things overly religious, but a profound respect for things spiritual.  You could have described it as Virginia low church.  Communion was once a quarter.  The word “Eucharist” hadn’t been invented yet, at least among Episcopalians.

The Bishop was William Moody.  He was a romantic at heart.  He put the Cathedral up in the mountains of E KY near nothing because he felt that was where it should be.  Something of an Anglican Franciscan.

[16] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-02-2007 at 07:12 PM • top

By the way, Dr. Harmon’s predecessor at TAD, William Ralston, who was later at St. John’s Savannah, came from near there.

[17] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-02-2007 at 07:14 PM • top

And I’ve got to get to where I can trust clergy again.  Thanks for your patience.

I don’t know if I said this on SF or elsewhere, but the deep pain of being betrayed in matters of faith life is only rivaled material betrayal. I don’t think it is an accident St. Paul uses that metaphor in Esp. 6.

May the Lord surround you with His comfort and bring a healing no doctor on this earth can bring. May He bring more trustworthy clergy into your life that you may learn to trust again. May He redeem your pain and make it into a beautiful testimony for His glory’s sake

(I’ve been burnt quite a few times, this last was a whole series staff, three clerics and vestry in short order, but God is good and He has some neat folks out there. Ironically my now priest was told he didn’t have the personality to be an Episcopal priest by some of the very same folks - thus a unique understanding. Don’t trust clerics, rather trust Jesus and ask He leads you to special folks who can enable you to respect the office again).

[18] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 08-02-2007 at 09:52 PM • top

I should not write when I’m tired, not only is my grammar worse than usual but I can’t get my verses correct: Eph 5:29-33—Good night.

[19] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 08-02-2007 at 10:08 PM • top

Thanks, H6:6, may the Lord bless your rest.  You are obviously a kind person to put up with such rantings from me.

[20] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-03-2007 at 05:33 AM • top


I agree with some of what you say, but I have to take issue with the notion that “clergy are a protected class of people who do no work.”  I’ve had to priveledge of meeting and even sitting under clergy who are worthy of your trust and my own;  and what I’ve seen is that they are an unprotected class who do too much work.  One of my friends has a mission work in the Phillippines.  He preaches on Sunday, and then heads off to the boonies for the rest of the week to earn cash from “his day job.”  Meanwhile, his wife home-schools their 5 kids, and handles the jobs she’s expected to do as the minister’s wife. 

I get tired just listening to him talk about what he has to do to keep everything afloat.  I often wonder if ... he ever gets tired.  I think so - so every now and then I try to offer him and his family, some encouragement.  Sometimes, I encourage with green-colered paper. 

Paul worked when he was in Thessolonica, but he considered that to be atypical circumstances - it was a missionary effort.  On the whole, I think he supports the notion of clergy being fully supported (“Don’t muzzle the ox as he treads out the corn”) so that they can truly be “separated unto the Gospel.” 

But yes, it’s definitely possible to abuse the Pulpit from both sides.  And so I can’t blame you for being a bit jaded about clergy.

[21] Posted by J Eppinga on 08-16-2007 at 11:58 PM • top

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