What We Do Matters Because What They Do Matters: Edwin Harlin

When a person hears that a friend or loved one is beginning a degree program at Ashland Theological Seminary, they assume that a career in pastoral ministry is the next step. Though many of our graduates go on to lead churches around the world, not all follow that path. Rev. Edwin Harlin is just such a graduate.

Edwin, MDiv class of 2003, is one the growing number of students that are coming to Ashland Theological Seminary after a successful career in another field. In this case, Edwin retired from IBM as a systems analyst. After more than 20 years, “God was calling him to more.” At that time, even Edwin himself thought he would lead a church in his urban Detroit community. Turns out God had plans to use Edwin in “another kind of church.”

Today, you will find Rev. Harlin on the 4th floor of Cadillac Place in downtown Detroit. The former home of auto giant General Motors, Cadillac Place is now the address of the field offices for the State of Michigan. The sign on his door reads: Director, SE Michigan Division, MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority). There are no pews, but there are dozens of cubicles with committed staff members serving the housing needs of Michigan residents in seven of the state’s largest counties. There are no offerings, but millions of state and federal dollars are utilized to create safety and opportunity for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. There is no pulpit, but Rev. Harlin walks through the marble-lined hallways speaking words of vision and encouragement to a committed staff.

Edwin says he “never had this in mind” when he began his education at Ashland Theological Seminary. Today he says, “This is my church.”


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