DUMAS ALEXANDER HARSHAW,JR. was born in Springfield, Illinois on October 11,1950. When he was 10 years old, young Dumas moved to Pasadena, California with his mother Lois, his father, Dumas, Sr., and his three sisters, Paula, Cherry, and Sandra.
In 1972, young Dumas earned his Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Point Loma Nazarene College in Point Loma, California. His next "red-letter" year was 1978, when he not only earned both the Master and Doctor of Divinity degrees from the School of Theology at Claremont, California, but he was also ordained through the Ordination Council of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and the American Baptist Churches, USA. The ordination took place at Trinity Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California, on July 9, 1978. Dr. Harshaw earned the Master of Arts in Theology from Point Loma Nazarene College of San Diego in 1979.
Dr. Harshaw is currently fulfilling the requirements for his second doctorate, a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Religion and Theology, from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. His dissertation is on the Holy Spirit in the Theology of F.D.E. Schleiermacher and Howard Thurman.
When Dr. Harshaw accepted the call to be pastor of First Baptist Church, he was an active and valuable part of American Baptist Churches, USA(ABC-USA). From 1993 until 1996, Dr. Harshaw served as Area Director for Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. In that position, he coordinated the work of ABC Missionary Personnel assigned to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. He developed, promoted, and maintained collegial relationships with partner national conventions in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. After that successful tenure, Dr. Harshaw served as Special Assistant to the Executive Director of International Ministries for ABC-USA.
Pastor Harshaw's tenure at ABC-USA followed a very successful time as Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Los Angeles, the site of his ordination. During his time as Senior Pastor, 1985-1993, Dr. Harshaw created a spirit of praise in worship where people celebrated the life of God through Christ; he implemented a 7:30 morning worship and radio broadcast that emphasized expository teaching. Additionally, he established stewardship committees to encourage tithing and he established an Endowment to underwrite church facilities During Dr. Harshaw's shepherding of Trinity Baptist, he established a Lay Ministry Institute in cooperation with Azusa Pacific University. Dr. Harshaw oversaw the expansion of a more extensive outreach ministry to include New Member Fellowship, Hospitality, Evangelism, Jail Ministry, Drug Awareness Program, Lay Hospital Ministry, Single Adult Ministry, Couples Fellowship, Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Hot Lunch Program and extended missions to Europe and Asia.
In partnership with World Vision Mission Agency, Dr. Harshaw implemented a $25,000.00 grant to address job training and placement, which produced an on-site job training center. In memory of fallen astronaut Ronald McNair, Dr. Harshaw established a scholarship fund at Trinity Baptist.
Dr. Harshaw comes to the First Baptist Church family uniquely qualified to pastor a church that has a history of spiritual and community activism. Indeed,the positions in which he excelled before his tenure at Trinity Baptist Church were outstanding preparation for his life as a pastor. His previous positions are: Assistant to the Pastor, Trinity Baptist (1979-1985); Associate Minister, Holman United Methodist Church of Los Angeles (1978-1979); Professor of Church History Student Assistant at the School of Theology at Claremont (1977-1978); Christian Education Director/Youth Director at Baldwin Hills Baptist Church of Los Angeles(1976-1977); and Protestant Chaplain at Wayside Honor Rancho in Castaic, Ca (1975-1976) and with Christian Jail Workers, Inc. at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall,Downey, California(1973-1975). In all of these previous positions, Dr. Harshaw established a work ethic that speaks to his commitment to the achievement of his ultimate goal, which is, in his own words, "to be an instrument of God's love and power and be a Pastor/Teacher."
Dr. Harshaw has enjoyed extensive teaching experience, spanning a time period from 1983 through 1996. He has served as an adjunct professor, teaching such subjects as Systematic Theology and Renewal of Church Mission. In his experiences as an Instructor, Dr. Harshaw has taught such courses as New Member Ministry and ;Deacon's Classes. He has been a Guest Lecturer on such tropics as "India Travels" and "Africa Travels"' "Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X"; Missiology, Practical Theology; and Ministry in the 21st Century.
Dr Harshaw has also had the pleasure of seeing several of his articles go to publication.
Our pastor holds many professional affiliations, among them: Chairperson, Faith in Action Committee, Raleigh Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (1997); memberships on Advisory Board of Directors of the Africian-American Cultural Complex (1997) and the Steering Committee of the Black Achievers Program of the Garner Road YMCA (1997), and the Steering Committee of the Schleiermacher Study Group for the American Academy of Religion (1996-present); such leadership roles as Past President, Los Angeles Council of Churches (1988-1992); Past Vice-President, the Gathering of Greater Los Angeles (1983-1984); founder and Co-chair, Jefferson Park Improvement Project (1990-1993), and Past President, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Los Angeles (1981-1983).
The list of honors to Dr. Harshaw is impressive, and includes his latest kudo, his 1997 acceptance as a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and the Center for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World. In 1991, Dr. Harshaw received the Prophetic Witness Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles. He was the 1990 Honoree of the Black American Political Association of Los Angeles.
But his highest honor is two-fold: husband and father. Dr. Harshaw cherishes the time he spends with his wife, the former Sharon Denise Stringer, whom he wed on June 28, 1980. Together, they are the proud and devoted parents of three children: Dennae Malesa, born April 6, 1981; Dumas III, born October 22, 1984, and Shanise Lauren, born August 7, 1987. Dr. Harshaw counts quality time with his family as his very favorite pastime.
Since coming to First Baptist Church on September 1, and preaching his first sermon on September 7, Dr. Harshaw has "hit the ground running"! He has shown us a work ethic to be compared to some of the earlier pastors.
Truly a new era has begun with the appointment of Dr. Dumas A. Harshaw as God's Under Shepherd to First Baptist Church in the second half of the nineties.
The prayers of the congregation are with Dr. Harshaw throughout his pastorate at First Baptist Church.