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May 07, 2018

Larry and Dena Harrison Honored at Camp Allen’s Starry Nights and Campfire Lights

More than 160 people gathered for Camp Allen’s10thStarry Nights and Campfire Lights gala in Austin, May 1 to celebrate the ministry of the Rt. Rev. Dena A. Harrisonand her husband Larry. Bishop Harrison plans to retire at the end of 2018 after 31 years of ordained ministry serving first at All Saints, Austin; and later as rector of St. James, LaGrange; St. James, Conroe; archdeacon of the Diocese of Texasand for the last 12 years, bishop suffragan.

The evening, hosted by Seminary of the Southwest, brought glowing tributes for both Harrisons and raised more than $70,000 for scholarships and programs at Camp Allen.

“The evening was sold out,” said the Rev. Miles Brandon, vicar of St. Julian of Norwich, Round Rockjust north of Austin. Hosted by the Seminary of the Southwest, where Bishop Harrison is chair of the board, the event “is a nice way for two of our great institutions—the Seminary and Camp Allen— to connect and support one another,” Brandon said. 

While the auction, organized by Bonnie Walton of St. Michael’s, Austin, was a huge hit, “the night was about honoring Larry and Dena Harrison,” Brandon continued. “They are two folk well deserving of the standing ovation they received and of the heart felt remarks made about them.”

Brandon shared a personal story of speaking with Bishop Harrison while struggling with his vocation. “She listened to me for a long time—patiently—before finally cutting off my torrent of words and anxieties mid-sentence and saying, ‘Miles, I have great confidence in you,’” he said, adding, “Her words made a huge difference for me.”

Seminary dean, the Very Rev. Cynthia Kittredge said, "Bishop Harrison is a person 'on whom nothing is lost.' Her ability to observe, analyze and act is acute and has been exercised to the benefit of many institutions, including Seminary of the Southwest. But it is her love, for the people and the communities she oversees, which is the essence of her ministry."

Jolynn Free, a member of All Saints and an active diocesan leader for many years, has known the Harrison’s for all of the Bishop’s ordained ministry. In her remarks, she noted Bishop Harrison’s ability to “operate in the real world and the sacred.” Free said it was “Dena’s influence as a whip-crack smart woman living out her faith with humility on a daily basis that influenced me,” noting her leadership was always “clear-eyed, wise and kind.”

The Harrison’s were “thrilled to have been honored at Starry Nights,” said Bishop Harrison, who added, “Camp Allen has been part of our family’s life for may years and we are happy to help make those wonderful experiences available to more people, especially children.”

Camp Allen’s President George Dehan presented the Harrison’s with several gifts including dinner at a local Mexican restaurant “because she missed the House of Bishops dinner for her class due to her broken ankle [when they met recently,” he said.

In the past decade, Starry Nights in Austin has raised more than half a million dollars for scholarships and programming at Camp Allen. The Diocesan camp and conference center near Navasota also holds a fundraiser in Houston in October each year. Each event celebrates lay and clergy who have given sacrificially in their ministry and who have supported the ministry of Camp Allen.

Brandon and his wife Ashley; Kellye and Kenton Heinze and Bonnie and Trent Walton planned the evening’s festivities hosted at Seminary of the Southwest, where Bishop Harrison serves as chair of the board.