Ron Harris, Pastor
For many reasons, Pastor Ron Harris’ coming to Cottage Grove Bible Church is very much a homecoming. Ron graduated from Cottage Grove High School then left for Alberta, Canada to study at Prairie Bible Institute. After graduating from PBI, Ron went to Monterey, California to serve with Child Evangelism Fellowship as first Intern Director, then County Director. It was while he was with CEF in Monterey that he met and married the love of his life, Anna. The newlyweds decided to return to PBI so Ron could earn a degree that was newly offered after he had graduated. While there he was hired to return to the church in which they were married to serve as Youth Pastor. Arriving enthusiastically the first day on the job, he was greeted by a rather glum Senior Pastor who said: “I’m quitting.” Ron discovered that, unbeknown to them, the church was struggling with some severe problems, and that his ministry there was going to be very temporary.
After considering many options, Ron and Anna felt that God was leading them to return to Cottage Grove, find work, and settle into a church. While Ron was at PBI, his parents, Harry and Doris Harris, had begun attending Cottage Grove Bible Church, so naturally Ron and Anna visited there first, felt at home there, and stayed. Ron began teaching, first an adult class, then High School, then both High School and a College/Career meeting in their home on Sunday nights. Both of them were always involved with the music ministry in several capacities, and Ron served on the elder board.
Ron’s first employment was with the local Les Schwab Tire Center, then he began working part-time to get a business started with his dad, Harris Machine & Design, Inc.. In a few years they came to that difficult decision to leave the good job with an established company and to step out on their own, and they did, working full time at the machinery business for over two decades.
Throughout this time of blessing and challenge, they knew that God was preparing them for something more. Their firstborn son was born with a medically irreversible defect and passed within an hour of his birth. Then along came Rebekah, a heathy, beautiful, expressive baby with Down’s Syndrome. When they needed help with Rebekah’s physical therapy, the church in Cottage Grove supplied faithful, reliable, and enthusiastic help. During this time, Ron also had sporadically investigated some vocational ministry options, but God evidently was using these as training experiences.
Finally, in 2009, through the clear leading of God, the Harris’ moved to Kooskia, Idaho, to serve with Valley Bible Church, as their Pastor. It was a wonderful and growing experience, and the church prospered and became a lighthouse in that small community. But nearing the end of their 8the year there, it became more and more necessary for the Harris’ to travel to help their parents with age and health-related problems, so, in answer to prayer, God moved them to serve with Pacific Community Church in Bandon, Oregon. Bandon was a beautiful place, with a wonderful facility, and loyal and helpful, dedicated people. They started an Awana club there, even though no one there had ever participated in Awana until then. And through the mighty work of God, the Harris’ took on a foster daughter, Hailey, when she was 17.
But news of Dr. Bob Singer’s pending retirement from Cottage Grove Bible Church triggered a thought that, just maybe, God might want them to consider a move back to pastor their “old” home church, the Harris’ began to pray and seek God’s will. They loved the people, the work, and the place where they were, but more and more it became clear that God was moving them…home.
On January 8, 2023, Cottage Grove Bible Church celebrated a rare event: the transition directly from one Senior Pastor to another. Ron is very aware that Dr. Bob’s shoes are not only metaphorically, but actually big ones to fill, and that it is only though the enabling of the Holy Spirit and the help of God’s people that His church will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we have placed our hope.