Pastor Emeritus at First United Methodist Church, Birmingham, MI

Rev. Dr. John E. (Jack) Harnish

is an ordained United Methodist pastor, the Pastor Emeritus at First United Methodist Church, Birmingham, MI.  A native of Clarion, PA, he was ordained in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church and served churches in Western Pennsylvania and Michigan, including Dexter UMC, Court Street UMC in downtown Flint and First UMC Ann Arbor, on the campus of the University of Michigan.

For seven years, he was the Associate General Secretary for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church in charge of the Division of Ordained Ministry.  In that role, he worked with seminaries and programs of clergy education and was involved in the work of the World Methodist Council around the world. He has been a delegate to the United Methodist General Conference and the North Central Jurisdictional Conference.

Jack has served on the Boards of Trustees for the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Adrian College in Michigan and the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary in Tallinn, Estonia.

He is a graduate of Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary and received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where he was also awarded the Elisa Garrett Award for Church Leadership.

As a writer, he has published two previous books, “The Orders of Ministry in the United Methodist Church” and “Don’t Be Afraid:  Bishops and Young Clergy Share Signs of Resurrection and Words of Hope”, published by the United Methodist Publishing House.  He is a frequent columnist for MIConnect, the Michigan United Methodist on-line magazine and the Record Patriot Newspaper in Benzie County, MI. His weekly blog “Monday Memo” can be found at www.jackharnish.wordpress.com. In 2019 he received the Donn Doten Award of Excellence from the United Methodist Association of Communicators. 

He is married to Judy Harnish, a retired elementary school principal and they are the proud parents of Christopher and David Harnish, daughter-in-law Kerri Odess-Harnish and three grandchildren, Ethan, Alice and Trudy.

Past Experiences

Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Birmingham, MI (2005-2013)

Jack led a wonderful staff and congregation in a time of growth, particularly in the area of youth ministry and completed a major renovation project. In 2013, he was named Pastor Emeritus.

Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI (2000-2005)

As the lead pastor of this vibrant congregation on the edge of the campus of the University of Michigan, Jack made an impact with his preaching and developed his writing skills while seeking to relate to the university community.

Associate General Secretary, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Nashville, TN (1993-2000)

As the head of the Division of Ordained Ministry, Jack was instrumental in establishing the 1996 Orders of Ministry in the UMC. He worked closely with the 13 UM seminaries in the USA and related to programs of clergy training around the world. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary recognized his leadership by awarding him the Doctor of Divinity degree.

Senior Pastor, Court Street United Methodist Church, Flint, MI (1990-1993)

As an anchor church in the heart of the city of Flint, Court Street was actually Judy Harnish’s ancestral home for both sides of her family. Jack loved the challenge and the privilege of serving a congregation committed to Flint and the inner city.

Pastor, Dexter United Methodist Church, Dexter, MI (1979-1990)

In his longest pastorate, he served a rapidly growing congregation on the out-skirts of Ann Arbor. While there he lead the congregation in envisioning a new future and purchasing a former Boy Scout camp which is now the home of the congregation.

Pastor, Washington and Davis United Methodist Churches (1974-1979)

Jack’s transfer from Western Pennsylvania to the Detroit Conference of the UMC brought him to two small churches on the outer edge of Metropolitan Detroit.

Pastor, Hawthorn, Oak Ridge and Mt. Zion United Methodist Churches (1972-1974)

Jack’s first appointment out of seminary introduced him to rural ministry in Western Pennsylvania. With three Sunday morning services and one Sunday evening service, he honed his preaching skills!