BIO

INTRODUCTION

KNOW MORE ABOUT ANTIPAS L. HARRIS

Dr. Antipas is a public theologian, leader, scholar, author, and public speaker. He is passionately engaged in reimagining the role of faith in the public square and the formation of future leaders for the church and the world. His leadership experience is multifaceted and spans theological education, the church, and the community. He understands truth, love, justice, grace, and mercy as central to Christian identity and apex for effective public witness. 

Over the last 18 years, Harris has taught at various universities and theological schools, including Sacred Heart University, New York Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Portland Theological Seminary, Vanguard University, Virginia Christian College, and Regent University. While working at Regent University, he held an administrative position and was a tenured associate professor. He was named the 2019-2020 prestigious Moen Preaching Chair at North Central University. Harris currently teaches courses in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Old Dominion University.

Academy

Over the last 18 years, Harris has taught at various universities and theological schools, including Sacred Heart University, New York Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Portland Theological Seminary, Vanguard University, Virginia Christian College, and Regent University. While working at Regent University, he held an administrative position and was a tenured associate professor. He was named the 2019-2020 prestigious Moen Preaching Chair at North Central University. Harris currently teaches courses in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. 

Harris is passionate about leadership in theological education. He has chaired and served on numerous university committees. Harris also served as acting director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Regent University. He has supervised several dissertations and served on many doctoral committees. Bridging the academy and the church, Harris initiated the Church Education Initiative at Regent Divinity School to build a deeper relationship between theological education and local churches. 

Furthermore, Harris was the founding president of Jakes Divinity School in Dallas, Texas. The school is a church-based divinity school at The Potter’s House. Harris established Jakes Divinity School (JDS) to enhance theological education as an additional benefit within a widely recognized ministry that has a global impact. As President, Harris led the school’s original and strategic plans.

In addition to the countless young people Harris has taught and mentored, he organized a formal mentoring group called Young Ministers, Pastors, and Leaders (YMPL) Mentoring to support 20 aspiring Christian leaders. Harris has mentored them through vocational discernment, personal challenges, and more. Many of his mentees were seminarians, and others were aspiring seminarians. Today, most of them are graduates, serving and thriving in various areas of ministry in the church and society. Some are pursuing doctorate degrees or finished their degrees and serving in the academy.

Church

Harris embodies ecumenism and demonstrates the ability to build global networks and influence within the church and society. As an ecumenist, Harris has served several pastoral staffs within various mainline, denominational, and non-denominational churches for the past 31 years. He began his ministry in a rural church in Manchester, Georgia. Since then, he has served in several urban and suburban intercultural contexts and has led short-term ministry teams abroad. He has taken part in two successful church plants, one an international church in Kananga, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the other, an urban church in Portsmouth, VA.

Harris is passionate about the role of faith in the public square. He is well-known for his ability to build coalitions with unlikely community partners, crossing racial/ethnic, denominational, and religious lines. He believes that all of humanity is inextricably bound up together. Harris says, “We must care for all of God’s creation, every person, our families, communities, cities, nation, and world. We must work to love each other–including those who don’t look, believe, think, or act like us–as one big human family. Our humanity is primary and essential to preserve humankind. Most importantly, we need to affirm the full humanity of everyone.”

When Harris served as a pastor in New Haven, Connecticut, he was deeply concerned about many dynamics of the region’s urban plight along racial and ethnic lines. With particular concern about the city’s youth, he drew upon his music and arts background and developed a concept to help New Haven’s youth. Harris formed a strategic partnership with Yale University. Partnering with a doctoral student of English at Yale, a student who was also a playwright, and a representative from Yale Music School, the urban musical entitled “Broken Chains: A Gospel Hip-Hopera” was born. The musical was an imaginative story of the persecution of Peter by Roman Emperor Nero. The significant production spread throughout the city, Yale University, the Shubert Theatre, and the arts magnet school. It drew upon international artistic elements from the Caribbean Islands and West Africa. The musical debuted in New Haven in December 2011. This creative integration of urban music and dance with religious undertones was a hit among New Haven’s urban youth. The project proved meaningful in supporting better community relations in the surrounding ethnically diverse communities and Yale University.

Harris later served as founding dean of the Urban Renewal Center (URC) in Norfolk, Virginia. The vision of the center focuses on racial unity. Over the past several years, racial tension in the country led Harris to join efforts with another pastor to organize the center to mobilize an ecumenical consortium of churches, as well as synagogues, mosques, and other faith-based units and the broader community to build coalitions, facilitate educational forums, and advance social engagement. The interfaith alliance convinced Harris that people are eager to see things change for common good. They are waiting on strong, compassionate, and informed faith-based leadership. Through the URC, Harris has led several educational forums on race and cultural diversity and the opioid epidemic. The forums draw attendees from various faith traditions, civic organizations, the business community, and law enforcement. Harris also leads the Black Sacred Arts Series, which highlights the history and relevance of black sacred art in religious, cultural, ideological, and sociological development in the United States.

Community

Harris gains inspiration and challenge from productive relationships with civic leaders, pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, bishops, legislators, CEOs, presidents, and deans to address community and national concerns. Often, crises become the catalysts that compel government, scholarship, education, and faith leadership toward solutions (i.e., racial factions, troubled youth and gang violence, crises in college retention, high school drop-out rates, the lack of quality education, poverty, homelessness, all violence-related trauma, and police brutality). Harris contends we must always maintain faith in ourselves and our Creator. With the intersection of faith in public engagement, it is quite possible to get it right. Harris’ commitment to faith and society has influenced several of his initiatives: an academic support program and ministries that offer hand-ups to others through financial literacy and economic empowerment.

Harris has also served on numerous nonprofit boards. For approximately eight years, Harris served on the board of directors for the Hampton Roads Committee of 200 Plus Men, Inc., supporting efforts to help hundreds of men of color matriculate through high school and enroll in college. He served on the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference board and was involved in the Faith and Education Coalition and the organization’s efforts to advance criminal justice reform. Harris currently serves on the board of directors for Community in Schools of Hampton Roads, an organization with a mission to mobilize the community to help schools remove barriers for students likely to drop out. He serves on the board of directors for Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, an organization that works with schools, businesses, and communities to eradicate prejudices in all forms and improve academic achievement, increase productivity in the work environment, and build trust among community stakeholders. Additionally, Harris is the first to serve at Vice Chair for Interfaith Relations on the regional executive board of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. Hampton Roads Chamber is 5-star accredited. It values the interfaith community’s role in setting the moral climate for thriving business. The President of the Chamber affectionately refers to him as the “Chamber chaplain.”

An essential staple in Harris’ public leadership has been participation with the Norfolk Police Department (NPD). He served on the Fair and Impartial Police Committee (FIP). He also went through the FIP training with the NPD command staff. Harris thoroughly enjoyed working with NPD to create and lead the Clergy Patrols. He spent time on the streets with the police, doing ride-a-longs, accompanying the officers when called upon. His office at the Urban Renewal Center served as liaison to recruit senior pastors and seminary students to join the approximately 20 participating squad members. They participated in de-escalating situations, mediating conflict, consoled, and prayed with people in their times of need. Considering national concerns about police and community relations, it seems appropriate for faith-based organizations to lead to bridging the chasm toward healthier communities. As a minister, professor, and researcher, Harris gained great insight from his work as community leader for ongoing conversation and progressive action for positive change.

Harris has led many creative outreach ministries, including the Circle of Grace–where he mentored several homeless men and other young people. He also led international short-term missions in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He co-founded Hampton Road’s Hands United Building Bridges (HUBB)–a council of interfaith clergy, and more. Harris also partnered with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra to launch “Evening of Hope” at the Harrison Opera House. Evening of Hope is an annual formal event that unites Hampton Roads to comfort families with loved ones who are fatal victims of the violence epidemic and to honor frontline workers.

Education

Harris earned his BA in Religion and Creative Music Technology from LaGrange College, MDiv from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, STM from Yale Divinity School, DMin from Boston University and a PhD in Practical Theology from St. Thomas University. Harris is well-published, with several peer-reviewed articles, newspaper columns, chapters, edited volumes, and monographs. Harris is a leader in religious education, a prolific writer, theologian, community leader, social activist, and pastor.