Remembering The Rev. Dr. Ellens With Gratitude for His
Commitment & Contributions to an Inner-City Seminary

I first met Dr. J. Harold Ellens when Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) was searching for new faculty members during the 2011-12 academic year.  It was a time of transition for the seminary. I was the newly appointed Dean and inquired of friends and colleagues for help in identifying candidates for adjunct positions.

A friend, a former Greek student and tutor who was now engaged in Ph.D. studies at the University of Michigan, responded to my call for possible adjuncts. In doing so, it reminded me of a theologian he had mentioned to me over the years, one he greatly admired, one who had an impressive personal library and often hosted gatherings in his home to discuss theological-ministry topics. 

Dr. Ellens resume was extremely impressive and I wondered how interested he would be in talking with the dean of a small, inner-city seminary. Thankfully, he agreed to meet. I remember shaking hands with a very mature, distinguished gentleman who held two Ph.D. degrees, the second earned only recently. It was easy to see he was a man of grace, charm, high energy and exceptional intellect.

Thankfully, he was impressed with our seminary, its mission, its people and our Midtown Detroit context, and was eager to join the faculty. He was quickly approved as an adjunct professor teaching multiple disciplines. Later, Dr. Ellens was promoted to full professor. He was elated, and went on to become a pillar of the faculty, a favorite of students and one of ETS’s strongest supporters.

It was a relationship made in the heavens. He was a perfect fit at a seminary that seeks out relationships framed by deep mutual admiration, respect and love. Tears well up in my eyes as I fondly remember this literary giant and man of God whose smile, gentleness and graciousness are already missed.

I am deeply moved that Dr. Ellens’ beautiful family has established The J. Harold Ellens Memorial Fund and has designated ETS to be the recipient of gifts made in his memory.

Donations to the fund using a credit card can be made at this linkChecks can be made payable to Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Attention: Rev. Dr. J Harold Ellens Memorial Fund and mailed to the seminary at 2930 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201.

The fact that ETS is celebrating its 60th year and 2018 has been designated as A YEAR OF GREAT CELEBRATION makes the Ellens’ family gesture even more special. We are humbled and honored and grateful.

As the only fully-accredited seminary of the Protestant tradition located within the City of Detroit, we are proud of our history and tradition of service.

The best is yet to come, and your gifts will provide much-needed funding for scholarships, faculty development and program enhancements that we intend to use to honor Dr. Ellens and make his presence felt and lasting.

Thank you in advance for remembering Harold Ellens through your generosity to the school he loved.


Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. Kenneth E. Harris
President and Academic Dean
Professor of Biblical Studies