The Right Rev. Brian Cole has appointed the Venerable Chris Harpster as Archdeacon of the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee. The Venerable Harpster will continue in his duties at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kingsport and at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) with this new appointment.
Bishop Cole said, “Chris’ new role as Archdeacon will focus on providing administrative oversight and support of deacons in the Diocese. The classical definition of anArchdeacon is a senior clergy person who provides some kind of administrative or leadership role on behalf of a bishop.
“As bishop, I am hopeful that we can continue to expand the ministry of the diaconate here. The deacons here in East Tennessee play a vital role in our ministry of reconciliation and ‘restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.’ Deacons also work very closely with the bishop in ministries of service and reconciliation. Chris’ new role, I hope, will bear witness to the vital work that deacons already perform here and that we intend to raise up more servants for this ministry.”
“I am very excited about being appointed Archdeacon of the diocese!” Harpster said.
“I began serving as a kind-of ‘head’ deacon for our deacons, at the request of Bishop Young and have continued this responsibility with Bishop Cole,” he said. “Last June, I had the opportunity to serve as a co-chair of the Bishop Transition Team Walkabout Committee while we were discerning who our next bishop of the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee was going to be. Later, I had the honor of serving as Bishop Cole’s chaplain during his ordination as bishop and his Seating at St. John’s Cathedral. I have enjoyed serving in all of these roles and I am really looking forward to serving asArchdeacon for the bishop and for the diocese. I look forward to this adventure with Bishop Cole.”
Chris has served as deacon at St. Paul’s in Kingsport for almost 11 years. He and his wife Deborah moved to Kingsport when Chris enrolled at ETSU to complete his Bachelor of General Studies degree in 1999.
While at ETSU he served as Lay Chaplain, and during this time, the Rev. Lee Shaefer, then rector at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Kingsport, helped Chris discern his call to become a deacon. A subsequent conversation with Bishop Charles vonRosenberg confirmed that call and he was ordained a deacon in 2007.
In addition to serving as deacon at St. Paul’s, Chris has continued in his role as Chaplain for Emmaus House, the Episcopal Campus Ministry at ETSU.
The Rev. Jay Mills and the Rev. Maggie Zeller, who also live and serve in Kingsport, are Chris’ mentors. Maggie Zeller is rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, and Jay Mills, a retired rector of St. Paul’s, teaches lay ministry courses for the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee. “I am an empathetic person,” Chris said, “and I’m inspired by their unshaken faith and their friendship in helping me navigate through a frequently tragic world.”
In his off time, Chris loves to spend time with his family. Chris and Deborah have three adult children, Adam, Julia and Timothy.
Please join us in welcoming Chris to his new role as Archdeacon!