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Evangel University announces new full-tuition scholarship opportunity for African American students

Published on Jul 16, 2020 by Matt Hufman

Bob Harrison and Billy Graham.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beginning this fall, Evangel University will offer the Bob and Marilyn Harrison Emerging Leaders Scholarship to help ensure educational access and success for African American students. Funded by generous donors, the new endowed scholarship will provide full tuition for one student.

“I am so pleased that Evangel University is launching the Bob and Marilyn Harrison Emerging Leaders Scholarship for a deserving African American undergraduate student and with the enthusiastic support of the Harrison family,” Evangel President Carol A. Taylor, Ph.D. said.

“Bob and Marilyn Harrison provide an inspirational and aspirational model of perseverance, forgiveness, extraordinary global ministry impact, and racial reconciliation for today’s aspiring young African American leaders. I was delighted that our Board of Trustees joined me in endorsing the scholarship and providing the initial funding to build this endowed scholarship fund.”

Named after a pioneering minister

The scholarship is named after Bob Harrison, a pioneering African American minister and his wife, who spent their ministry in the Assemblies of God. It offers a full-tuition award in combination with other federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships and will be awarded to an African American student intending to pursue an undergraduate degree at the university.

“I commend Evangel University for this inclusive, sacrificial, and progressive step towards educational access and equity for a deserving African American student,” said Bishop Walter Harvey, president of the Assemblies of God National Black Fellowship. “This scholarship will perpetually help launch the next generation of world changers.”

Every year, Evangel University awards over $19 million in a variety of endowed and other scholarships, and over $900,000 in scholarships and institutional aid specifically to African American students.

“The Bob and Marilyn Harrison Emerging Leaders Scholarship is the ongoing legacy of a couple who touched lives for Christ all over the world,” said Dr. Samuel Huddleston, assistant superintendent of the Northern California-Nevada District of the Assemblies of God. “The recipient of this scholarship must be committed to furthering Bob and Marilyn’s heart for all people.

“I pray that the recipient of this scholarship will live and lead up to the standards the Harrisons left for us to follow.”

The application

To qualify, applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, be an African American person who is a U.S. citizen, be a graduating high school senior or college transfer student, and submit a personal essay describing their leadership experience and life goals, among other requirements.

The deadline to apply for this scholarship for consideration for the Fall 2020 semester is July 31, 2020. The deadline to apply for consideration for the Fall 2021 semester is March 1, 2021.

About Bob and Marilyn Harrison

Born January 23, 1928, in San Francisco, Bob Harrison was a catalyst for the Assemblies of God to ordain African American ministers after denying their ordination from 1939 to 1962.

Throughout his ministry, Harrison continually challenged people to carry the cross of Christ.

Harrison enlisted in the U.S. Army and served from 1946-1947. As part of the Army band, he became a very talented musician — a skill he would later use in ministry.

Following his service, he enrolled in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, earning a bachelor’s degree in music.

Harrison then attended Bethany Bible College (later Bethany University until its closing in 2011), receiving a certificate of theology in 1951. He was the first African American to graduate from the school.

While attending college he met Marilyn Betty Miller at a church social while she was visiting San Francisco. Marilyn Miller was born October 24, 1933, in Los Angeles, into a ministry family. After a yearlong courtship, she and Bob Harrison married on July 6, 1952. They lived their lives together in ministry and had five children: Keith, Carol, Adrienne, David, and Stephen.

Marilyn Harrison was well known for her faith and for giving care, counseling, comfort, hospitality, and friendship. Her care of others was widely recognized.

Bob Harrison served as pastor of an Emmanuel Church in San Francisco, an independent church, since he was originally denied credentials to serve in the Assemblies of God. However, through the efforts of Northern California-Nevada District Superintendent Leonard Palmer, Harrison was licensed in 1957.

In 1960, Harrison became a part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and then worked in special evangelistic crusades in Africa. He also conducted gospel crusades and musical concerts in Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, Asia and the United States.

Harrison was finally granted ordination with the Assemblies of God in 1962 and approved for service under missionary appointment by the AG Foreign Missions Department (now AG World Missions) in 1964.

In Harrison’s overseas work with the AG, he held crusades in Japan, Formosa, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, British Honduras (now Belize), Jamaica and Barbados. He also ministered to thousands of American troops in Vietnam.

In 1967, Harrison spoke at the General Council in Long Beach, Calif.

In the following years, Harrison and others, working with the Division of Home Missions (now AG U.S. Missions), reached out to the African American community through inner-city evangelism.

Harrison then became pastor of Maranatha Evangelistic Center in Portland, Oregon, in 1973.

In 1990, the National Black Fellowship was formed in the Assemblies of God, and Harrison was appointed national representative of Black Ministries. He also wrote the book, “When God Was Black” about his experiences.

Robert Emmanuel “Bob” Harrison passed away March 4, 2012. He was 84. Marilyn Harrison passed away on July 6, 2018. She was 84.

Bob Harrison continues to be an inspirational model of selfless service, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

For more information or to apply, visit

For more on Harrison’s life and service to the African American community, visit the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Photos courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.