The Most Rev. Stan Harris, D.D. was born in in Glenelg/Adelaide, South Australia on April 8, 1944. Born of Presbyterian parents, he converted to Catholicism in 1956, realizing he was gay about six months later! Homosexuality was a criminal offense at that time, with constant harrassment by law enforcement, even to the extent of causing bosses to fire their employees. Stan was fired twice.
Feeling a call to the priesthood, but not to celibacy, he studied in the Liberal Catholic Church and completed Minor Orders. Becoming involved in gay activism brought about a pause in his ministerial progress, although he was regarded and sought out as a "priestly" figure in the local LGBT community. Leading the fight against the "Festival of Light" a fundamentalist group, he spearheaded and achieved the decriminalization of homosexuality in South Australia in 1975. Stan achieved local “fame’ by defying a local ‘prophet’ Rev. John Nash who predicted a “cleansing earthquake and tidal wave to punish sinners who accepted Gays living among them”. The superstitious were panicked, many fled to the hills on the stated day of disaster . Stan, however, donned his robes, caught a tram and stood at the very edge of the pier at Glenelg Beach and held a press conference denouncing bigotry and daring the waves to take him. Nothing happened and Nash left town in disgrace.
Having met Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry in 1974, Stan founded the first MCC congregation in Australia–MCC Adelaide. He also received a glowing reference from the Liberal Catholic Bishop who transferred him to MCC, (probably in relief!). He was ordained Priest for ministry in MCC in 1976, by Bishop R.J.Cunningham. Stan was the first (White) non-American to do so. He transferred to MCC Baltimore, Maryland, in 1977 and celebrated a Holy Union with Rev. David Kromer that same year. (They were together for 26 years until David's sudden death in 2002). They ministered together in New Zealand, then Carmel California, being active in gay rights issues.
In 1981 Stan founded MCC Charleston, South Carolina. In 1985, he was chosen as pastor of Divine Redeemer MCC in Glendale, California, During the early AIDS crisis, Stan was much in demand for Last Rites and funerals for both Catholics & Protestants, as their Clergy at that time refused to assist out of fear of contagion.He established the “Missionaries of Mercy” providing house cleaning (free of charge) for patients too weak to do for themselves. He led a large protest at the home of politician Mike Antonovich who had declared “AIDS was their own fault" and patients were not worthy of sympathy or assistance. He & David resigned from Glendale MCC in May 1993.
In August 1993. Harris and Kromer received "sub conditione" priestly ordination from Archbishop Jolly-Gabriel of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and established the “Queen of Peace Shrine”, Sun Valley as an independent Catholic congregation. The congregation is of the Catholic tradition and open to all, both straight & gay, of course. Fr. David Kromer died suddenly in April 2002 and was deeply mourned. In 2004, Fr. Harris was consecrated as Bishop of the San Fernando Valley, while still maintaining his Independent Catholic status. He prefers to be referred to still as “Fr. Stan”, donning the Bishop’s regalia only on major Holy Days of the church (or when the Archbishop is visiting!).
Bishop Stan Harris survived a heart attack in 2005, and a bout with cancer in 2009, with no aftereffects. He lives in Sun Valley, California, and continues his busy ministry in the community. He and MCC founder Rev. Troy Perry are still the best of friends, meet regularly for lunch and compare their aches & pains with humor as old age approaches.
(This biographical statement provided by Stan Harris and the Queen of Peace Shrine, Sun Valley, Calif.)
Biography Date: April, 2010
Independent Catholic Church | MCC | Perry, Troy | Clergy Activist | Australia | California | Harris, Stan
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