Pastor Stephanie Harmon has been the minister at the Methodist Church since June, 2011. Coming here from Roswell, and before that, Santa Fe, she’s had several years of New Mexican ministry. But before she was a pastor, Harmon was a wife and mom.
Born in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis, Mo., Harmon grew up in “Middle America.” Webster Groves was such an example of middle class Americana, CBS did a documentary featuring the town. From wanting to be the first female zoo director to desiring to defend the disenfranchised like her uncle did, Harmon’s options were many. After high school, she enrolled in Purdue University, met her husband, Ken, and graduated with a degree in Political Science. And then their lives took an unexpected turn.
Ken and Stephanie had two children, Chris and Emily. Chris became enrolled in the gifted program at his school. Emily, at five months of age, suffered a bout of bacterial meningitis, which left her functioning at a two year old level, deaf and diagnosed with epilepsy. Stephanie went looking for God.
When Emily began full time school at age three, Harmon became involved as a parent educator, and developed curriculum for special needs classes. She also worked with students who fell below grade level, worked in reading and language arts, and became a one-on-one educator.
A move to Tulsa, Okla. in 1991 gave Harmon a new opportunity. Her pastor asked if she and Ken would teach a class. With Emily needing 24/7 special attention, both parents couldn’t be away from her the same time. “Friends of Emily” was born, which was a supportive group of adults who came, two at a time, to help with Emily so Ken and Stephanie would be free to lead a class. God nudged clearly in 1996, giving her a call and communicating with Harmon chaplaincy about the direction He wanted her to head.
In 1999, Harmon enrolled in Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, graduating in 2004. Ministry was already part of her DNA as she assisted special needs students. God broadened her scope and led her into the pastoral ministry. Currently, she’s the pastor of Community United Methodist Church at 220 Junction Road in Ruidoso.
The church lives by the principle of service with a heart to serve the community around them. “We don’t coast. We do our best to live out our faith to make the world a better place.”
Supporting missions in several locations like Mexico, India and Kenya, Harmon remarks, “They are one of the most mission minded congregations I’ve ever known!”
Harmon’s mission statement encompasses two sources: Jesus’ words in the gospel according to Matthew 22:37-39 and John Wesley’s statement: I give myself completely to you, God. Assign me to my place in your creation. Let me suffer for you. Give me the work you would have me do. Give me many tasks or have me step aside while you call others. Put me forward or humble me. Give me riches or give me poverty. I freely give all that I am and all that I have to you. And now, holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are mine, and I am yours. So be it. May this covenant made on earth continue for all eternity. Amen.
Visitors are welcome at the Methodist Church. Service times: Sundays: 8:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday School for all ages: 9:45 a.m. Wednesdays: community meal: 5 p.m. followed by hymns, study and prayer.
For more information, phone the church at 575-257-4170.