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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Harry M. Beall (1930 - 2016)

The Bethesda Missionary Temple choir and orchestra was led for many years by the late Harry Monville Beall who is seen on the far right hand side of the photo.
by Archibald Thackeray

Harry Beall
[The video of Harry Beall's memorial service, which was held January 14, 2017, can be seen at the bottom of this article. The two-hour video includes snippets of Harry's speaking and worship leading - it is a treasure.]

For 49 years, Harry Monville Beall was an integral part of the ministerial staff of the Bethesda Missionary Temple in Detroit, Michigan. He died on November 17, 2016 in Arizona after a long illness. He was 86.

Bethesda, which was founded on the east side of Detroit when Beall was four years old, was the flagship church in the Latter Rain Movement of 1948 (the church moved to the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights in 1989).

Beall's mother, Myrtle Beall, was the founder of the church and she was eventually joined in the ministry by her three children: Patricia Gruits (currently 94 years old), the late James Lee Beall, and Harry. As Harry's sister-in-law Anne Beall noted once in the early 1990s with good humor, "We told our son-in-law [James Dunn] when he joined the family, 'The Beall family is all chiefs and no Indians.'"

Myrtle, also known as Mom Beall, pastored the church until her death in 1979. She is counted among the great Pentecostal leaders by Pentecostal historians. James succeeded her as pastor and speaker on the church's nationwide radio program. Patricia wrote a catechism book, led Bethesda's Ministers Candidate School, and founded a mission in Haiti, Rhema International. Harry led the choir and orchestra, was an outstanding soloist, and was involved in both preaching and teaching.

In her memoir, A Hand on My Shoulder, Mom Beall wrote, "Our son, Harry, was born in 1930. From the beginning of his life, he seemed to know all the answers appertaining to the fullness of God. From a very tender age, God had given him a voice in song. From the time he was able to walk and talk, souls would find Jesus in our home as he sang to them out of his little heart" (Chapter 13, "Stops and Steps").

His brother James once told a humorous story from Harry's childhood. Harry was misbehaving during a family meal and was told to leave the table. Moments later he was heard mumbling as he stood in a corner. When his mother asked him what he was saying, Harry replied, "I'm swearing softly."

The Bealls, in addition to being an effective and accomplished ministry team, were also a very close-knit family. Patricia Gruits, in a sermon in the early 1980s, said, "I can say anything I want about my brothers. Now, if you want to say anything against them, I'll scratch your eyes out." Her hearers understood that, in context, she was not speaking threateningly, but illustrating the privileges and loyalty of family relationship.

Harry manifested that closeness when, as a pre-teen, he had to bid farewell to his brother as James headed off to serve in the Navy during World War II. Patricia told author Barbara J. Yoder about when the Bealls went to see their son and brother Jim board the bus that would take him to his military assignment.

"Every member of Patricia's family was weeping. She remembers seeing her little brother, Harry, standing there crying buckets of tears. He had heard everyone talking about the war, and he was inconsolable about losing his beloved older brother. Would he ever see his big brother again?" (in The Cry God Hears ... and is Waiting to Answer).

James did return home safely from World War II and joined his mother on Bethesda's ministerial staff in 1948. Three years later, Harry joined the staff as music director.

In A Hand on My Shoulder, Myrtle told how that move came about, "Harry was baptized in the Holy Spirit as a young boy, receiving with the Baptism a burden to help others to receive the Holy Spirit. The Lord has given him a ministry of song and the teaching and preaching of the Word.

"I remember as I sit here the day when his final decision was made. He attended the Bible College in Waxahachie, Texas and had returned still restless, still unsettled as to his future. On this day he decided to enroll in Wayne University to study to be a high school teacher. After enrolling he returned home and told me what he had done. Looking into his face I knew his decision had not yet answered the question in his heart. As I saw him sitting there with the burden of his decision heavy upon him, and yet without the satisfaction of having done what he really wished, my heart ached for him.

"So I asked Harry, 'Son, would you like mother to pray with you?' He answered that he would. We went upstairs to my study, fell upon our knees in prayer, and God met us. Harry said yes to God and farewell to the college and entered into God's ministry" (Chapter 35, "Reminisces: Thanksgiving 1956").

Bethesda's choir and orchestra under Harry's leadership became known for the beauty of its ministry. Michael Green, himself an outstanding choir director, once wrote in his Ministry Today magazine column that the power of Bethesda's choir reminded him of a 747 taking off a runway.

Edward Stingley
Many of the choir members under Harry's leadership speak fondly of the time spent in that endeavor. And Harry remembered them fondly, as well. For instance, he wrote touchingly of one of the choir's soloists, Edward Stingley, when he passed away in 2010, "I have been blessed with many friends in my lifetime. None was any greater than my friend Edward. He left a great memory for many, many people."

That is surely the same testimony that many have of Harry Beall today.

He is survived by his wife Patricia June Beall (nee Criswell). Harry was named for his father (the late Harry Lee Beall) and is also survived by a son named Harry Beall, as well as, daughters Patricia-lynne Basch and Amanda Kern, and another son Christopher Beall. His complete obituary can be accessed at this link.

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