In the fifteen years in which Preaching has been published, only two members of our Board of Contributing Editors have gone to be with the Lord, and both of them had already retired from active ministry at the time of their deaths.
When Frank Harrington died on March 3, we lost not only a third member of our advisory group, we also lost a great friend of Preaching and of the National Conference on Preaching. As Pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Frank has been a regular contributor to the magazine and a program leader at our conferences for several years. Ironically, I received my copy of the March-April issue of Preaching — in which one of Frank’s sermons appeared — on March 4, the day after I learned of his death.
During his 28 year pastorate at the Atlanta church, he led the small neighborhood congregation to become one of the region’s major churches, and the largest church in its denomination (PC-USA). And he did it in spite of breaking all the “church growth” rules. Rather than move to the Atlanta suburbs, Peachtree kept its Buckhead neighborhood location and transports hundreds every Sunday by bus from parking at nearby office complexes. He preached each Sunday using a full manuscript, but his messages were so well-prepared and presented that his listeners hardly noticed. His sermons were often folksy and frequently personal; as Frank once observed, “I never gave a sermon I didn’t need to hear myself.”
Frank became one of the movers and shakers of Atlanta’s New South culture. The pastor to many of the nation’s top CEO’s and corporate leaders, Frank was himself recognized as one of the most influential men in the city. Though he had a significant ministry to the community’s top leaders, he also knew that such success carried with it great responsibility; that’s why as much as forty percent of Peachtree’s budget was devoted to starting new churches and to agencies like Habitat for Humanity and the Atlanta Food Bank.
Despite his remarkable gifts of leadership and evangelism, at the core Frank Harrington was a preacher. In fact, one of the speakers at his funeral — a medical doctor and long-time friend — reminded us that Frank did not introduce himself as a “minister” but as a “preacher.” And as the doctor recalled, “That’s what he was.”
That’s how I came to know Frank: as one who loved to preach, and who loved preachers. I first met him when he led a workshop at our second National Conference on Preaching in 1990. From that point on, for several years, Frank enthusiastically volunteered to travel to each consecutive conference, where he was consistently one of the most popular speakers. After speaking at our 1997 International Congress on Preaching in London, Frank offered to serve on an advisory panel to help make possible a future international event. I have no doubt he would have continued to share his life and work through such events if illness had not taken him from us at the age of 63.
Whether sitting in his congregation or visiting in his study, it was clear that Frank Harrington’s calling and gift was the proclamation of the gospel. Sitting among some 5,000 persons at his funeral, I noticed again the phrase engraved on the front of the pulpit at Peachtree Presbyterian Church:
The Word
The Lord
Though many fine and appropriate thoughts have been offered in the tributes given to this influential minister and Presbyterian leader, those seven words may be the most fitting eulogy possible for Frank Harrington, a preacher who will be truly missed.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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