Dr. Harvie Conn Home with the Lord (1933-1999)
Dr. Harvie M. Conn, professor of missions emeritus at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and author of several ground breaking books on global urban missions, went to be with the Lord on August 28, 1999, after a long bout with cancer. Dr. Conn was born in Regina, SK, Canada in 1933, and became an American citizen in 1957. He received an AB from Calvin College in 1953, a BD in 1957, and a Th. M in 1958 both from Westminster Theological Seminary. He was awarded a Litt.D. from Geneva College in 1976.
In 1957, Harvie began a church planting ministry in New Jersey. Later, he went to Korea as an itinerant preacher in churches. He also taught New Testament at the General Assembly Theological Seminary in Seoul for ten years, as well as carried on a ministry of evangelism there among prostitutes and pimps.
He came to Westminster in 1972, and began teaching both apologetics and missions. He became an expert in interpretating popular culture through his comments on current films, and used this ability to regularly review films in a column for Eternity Magazine. While teaching at Westminster, Harvie took groups of students on missions field trips to India and Uganda. This led him to become a leader in urban evangelism and missions, which has become one of Westminster's trademarks at degree levels. Harvie also edited the magazine "Urban Mission" from 1989-1999. This journal for urban ministry practitioners was begun by Roger Greenway in 1983.
One of Dr. Conn's former students makes the astute observation that: "Conn's most enduring missiological contribution was hisconcentration of the importance of the city. He wanted the church to focus on the city, not because it was trendy - it was not - but because he read closely both the biblical material and the demographic data, bridging them together on a third horizon; God's mission to the cities of the world. No longer, Conn argued, could the world be considered a global village. Instead, it is a global city. This is the church's context, and to be effective, the church would need to sort out urban myth from fact. Not only did Conn help to put the city on the evangelical agenda, but he changed the way we think about the city".
As a result of requests from urban pastors in Philadelphia, the Westminster Ministerial Institute began in 1973 under Conn's direction. Saturday classes at Westminster later led to the formation of the Center for Urban Theological Studies. Among the books that Dr. Conn authored are: Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace, Eternal Word and Changing Worlds, and Theology, Missions and Anthropology in Trialogue. He also contributed regularly to journals and periodicals.
He is survived by his wife Dorothy, five children, and three grand children.
(Information supplied by Larry Sibley: Director of Public Relations, Westminster Theological Seminary)