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Rev. Elder Jeri Ann Harvey | Profile

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Biography

Rev. Elder Jeri Ann Harvey was born January 3, 1934, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (USA) into a Cherokee nation family.  This heritage was an important aspecet of Jeri Ann's identity. She graduated from high school in 1952 and received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1961. She served two years with the United States Navy (1952-1954) and was honorably discharged. She studied theology at Oklahoma South Western University.

Prior to the ministry, Harvey worked as a medical technologist and psychiatric technician in private clinics and the V.A. Hospital. She also had several articles and poetry published and was recorded as a singer with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in 1953.

Jeri Ann became a member of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in 1972. MCC founder Troy Perry recalls: "It was MCC’s 1974 General Conference in San Francisco; I was talking with an MCCer when the young woman stepped in between us, flashed a smile, and said, 'Let a real butch belly up to the bar.' That’s how I first met Jeri Ann Harvey – and she’s been making an impression on me, and thousands of others, ever since."

She was licensed as a minister in Dallas, Texas (USA) in 1975. She was ordained in Denver, Colorado (USA) in 1977 and was elected to the Board of Elders in Los Angeles, California (USA) in 1979. She pastored Christ the King MCC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Resurrection MCC in Houston, Texas. In April 1978, Rev. Harvey was the first woman elected pastor of the founding church, MCC Los Angeles, which she served until the summer of 1985 when she was called to be a full-time Evangelist.

Rev. Elder Harvey served the MCC as District Coordinator of the South Central District and as Liaison Elder to the Mid-Central and Northeast Districts. She also served on the national board of directors of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, as well as several Los Angeles organizations.

Rev. Elder Jeri Ann was well known in MCC as having a healing touch. She held healing services at MCC’s General Conferences which were always well-attended. Her last General Conference was in Alberta, Calgary (Canada) in 2005 where her final healing service was packed to the rafters. At that conference, Jeri Ann also served as witness for long-time MCC member Frank Zerilli at his and Franklin’s legal wedding. 

MCC moderator Nancy Wilson recalls: "Jeri Ann loved. She loved women and men; she loved kids and puppies. She loved the freedom and the power of the gospel of Jesus that she heard and shared on so many continents through MCC. She loved good music, religious music. She loved a good story. She loved our MCC churches, members and pastors, in small or larger churches. She prayed with them, wept with them. She traveled all over the world; she wore herself out sometimes. She gave until it hurt, many times. The stories of her life and ministry became our history. She confronted the Ku Klux Klan in Texas. She battled for civil rights in California. And like so many of us in the 80’s and 90’s she did too many funerals. She buried too many friends - from HIV/AIDS, from breast cancer, from all the things that take too many too soon. Jeri Ann Harvey preached hope and she lived hope. She endured a lot; she suffered and struggled a lot. Through it all, she was a fighter and a lover and an icon for many."

After leaving the United States, Jeri Ann and her partner, Rev. Elder Gill Storey, moved to Spain where Jeri Ann died May 28, 2008, at home.

(This biographical statement taken from an obituary and tributes on the web site: http://rememberingjeriann.com)

Biography Date: September, 2008

Tags

MCC | Native American Spirituality | Perry, Troy | Wilson, Nancy | Human Rights Campaign | Clergy Activist

Remembrances

Spring 1951  I was a sailor in the Naval Hospital Corps at Balboa Naval Hospital and also played the piano and organ.  I noticed that they had a Hammond organ in the auditorium and I would often play on my lunch break for some of the patients of the hospital who were recovering from their wounds in Korea. Some of the staff would come over to listen during their lunch break.

Spring  1952   One day the USO asked for volunteers to entertain the returning wounded from Korea at the hospital and I volunteered.  I went to the auditions and there were several singers without accompanists. One of them asked me if I would play for her to sing, and I said that I might.   She smiled and after we did a song together I told her that I would be happy to play for her.  She was a laboratory technician at the hospital.  We had a request for some of us to come entertain the folks at another local base. We met at the lab, got on a school type bus to ride over, performed and came back to the hospital.  It gave us a chance to get to know each other a little.  We performed several times and I always enjoyed hearing her sing, and seeing that bouyant smile on her face. But then a few months later, I left the Navy and moved back home to Oklahoma City after my discharge.  

Spring 1964   I had  a job playing the organ in a large restaurant in Oklahoma City and one night as I was playing one of my friends came in with his wife and a guest.  A few minutes later, the guest came over to the organ and said, " Do you know 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco'?" and I said yes. She said, " Would you play it for me?" Then she asked if she could sing it with me and I agreed. When she started to sing, I just died and quit playing when I recognized her. We both had a big hug.  I knew it was her when I heard that great voice; it was Jeri Ann Harvey.  She told me that she had come back to Oklahoma City to visit her folks and might decide to enroll in a local Bible college because she wanted to become a minister.  She did move to Oklahoma City and enrolled in the Bible college and she would sometimes come to the restaurant and sing with me. We had great times when she was going to school and I played for her a few times in her church.   One night she was at the restaurant with her folks and I was playing the piano in the bar when she asked me if I knew that guy that just came in with that woman.  I said, "Yes, that is Vern." She said, "Well, I was engaged to him in San Diego, but he got shipped out suddenly, and I lost track of him. I haven't seen him in all these years".   After awhile he left to go to the men's room. A he was leaving, Jeri Ann was returning and they met at the doorway.   They immediately grabbed each other and hugged and carried on. I got up and followed him to the lobby and he told me that he was now married and didn't want anything to interfere with his happy home--although the woman he was with lived in Oklahoma City, and he was from Tulsa.  Jeri said that he was safe, that she had no interest in him. But she was amazed and had a faraway look in her eye.   :-)

Spring 1969   Jeri Ann told me that she was living in San Francisco and would like for me to come visit her.  She mentioned she had a roommate named Sandy. My housemate said, " I think that would be a great idea. You should take our other housemate Larry, a 23-year-old college student out for a visit. And we could borrow his 1969 Oldsmobile Tornado." Larry was thrilled to get the invitation. Jeri had been to my house and had met Larry and they both really hit it off and liked each other.  So a month later, in the hot summer, we took off from Oklahoma City.  Jeri and Sandy lived in the famous Haight-Asbury district. As we drove to her apartment, we were amazed at the people.  She had a full-time job in a medical laboratory. We had a glorious time with Jeri, Sandy, and several of her friends.  It was fun to be out with the hippies.  We did the tourist thing in San Francisco for a week and then reluctantly went home to Oklahoma City.  It was a delight to spend that time with Jeri and  Sandy.

Spring 1972  Jeri came back to Oklahoma for a summer to be with her folks. She started preaching at the local MCC Church. She asked me to come play for her services, which I did, but not often. Then she moved  to Los Angeles to become the pastor of the MCC church on Hill Street. I went by to see her one afternoon and she showed me the sanctuary. I couldn't see the walls because there were drapes covering them.  When I mentioned this to Jeri, she said, "These queens have to swag their drapes everywhere," and smiled.  We went to famous cafe a few blocks away called The Pantry and enjoyed a nice home-cooked meal.  I took her back to the church, we had big hugs and I left.   I didn't know that I would never see her again. I did keep up with her through several moves and fully intended to go visit her in Bradenton, but just let time slip by. Then her friend said that she was moving her to Spain.”
 – as remembered by Wally Brown on November 15, 2014

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