|Born in New Orleans on May 15, 1903, and one of eight children, Cora Varnado Harris came into the world ready to take up the banner of her Lord with marching orders. Well, that is the way it seems. Even when she was young, she was looking for an active youth program, and though her parents were from another denomination, she found what she was looking for in an Epworth League in the Methodist Church in Hammond. She was so active as a youth and had such a good experience in the church that in 1926, she became the first paid Conference Youth Leader. She didn’t drive, and she had no car, so she rode buses from place to place establishing youth groups in local churches across Louisiana.
After a year of moving from church to church, she met the love of her life--James T. Harris--at the Annual Conference session when she reported her progress in youth work. Nine months later she and Jimmy Harris married, and they became a team. Not only did she become a wife and mother of three, but also she became an active part of the ministry of the church. She taught Sunday School, organized children, youth and adult choirs in every church they served. She worked in the Women’s Society of Christian Service, which later became the United Methodist Women. She became a strong leader in the Church.
Cora never resented moving from place to place. Itinerancy seemed to be in her blood. She always made her family feel like a move was a challenge never to be dreaded. Consequently, her family always looked forward to the change.
When she became a District Superintendent’s wife, she always had her home open to every preacher and his family. She loved to entertain them. She loved people.
Cora loved music. She enjoyed singing in a choir. She loved directing a choir. After she and Jimmy retired to Franklinton, La., she had to give up singing in the choir. She became the choir’s strongest critic, but she was always their strongest supporter.
Cora Varnado Harris was one of the saints of God. Saints, like all human beings, are human beings with imperfections and human failings; but saints of God recognize those imperfections and confess them before God and one another. They become forgiven sinners. But the difference is that they do not stay at the same level as before. They rise above those imperfections. They seek first to be faithful to the God who created them and loved them. They seek to serve their Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. They love God and they seek to love their neighbor. So it was with Cora. She was a saint. Death for her was a crown of achievement. It was a reward for a job well done. She won the race. So we can sing with all the saints today:
‘Tis finished! All is finished,
Their fight with death and sin;
Fling open wide the golden gates
And let the victors in.
Cora died January 20, 1990. Praise God for Cora Varnado Harris.