Harris, James Thomas


February 8, 1905 - December 20, 1986
The life of James T. Harris spanned most of the 20th century and witnessed significant changes in the world, the nation, and the Church. He was born in White Bluff, Tennessee on February 8, 1905 and he died in Franklinton, Louisiana on December 20, 1986 at the age of 81. He was not only an observer of these events but he was also a leader in the growth and development of The Methodist Church in the Louisiana Conference.
When he was nine years old he moved with his family to Ruskin, Tennessee, the site of a quaint little Christian College called Ruskin Cave College, whose headmaster and owner was Reverend R. E. Smith. James Harris enrolled in the Preparatory department and soon cane under the personal influence of this great Christian teacher. When Reverend Smith came to Centenary College in 1920 as Professor of Bible, soon thereafter James Harris joined his old friend and mentor in this small college setting. Professor Smith and Centenary College henceforth were the dominant influences in James Harris’ spiritual growth, the enrichment of his mind and his vocational awakening. In his senior year, 1925, he made a significant decision to remain in Centenary College another year to continue his studies under Dr. Smith and to accompany him to the Holy Land in the summer of 1926. In 1926 he received a second degree from Centenary College, graduating each time as a Summa Cum Laude.
While in Centenary College, he completed his requirements for ordination in the Methodist ministry, and in 1926 he was admitted to membership in the Louisiana Conference of The Methodist Church as a Probationer. Two years later he was admitted into Full Connection; in 1930 he was ordained Elder. On September 1, 1927 he married Core Varnado, Conference Youth worker, and for 59 years thereafter their lives were intertwined and mutually enriched in the Methodist ministry.
The ministry of James Harris was characterized by an emphasis on evangelistic outreach springing from his own dynamic faith in Christ in the true Wesleyan tradition. Preaching was his first priority and he did it well in his own churches and was a popular evangelist and singer throughout the Conference. Another emphasis in his early ministry was developing a Youth Program through which he won many to Christ and membership in the Church.
Following his first appointment to the Rochelle Methodist Church in 1926, his progress in the Conference is indicated by the following service years: 1930-32 Felicity, New Orleans; 1923-36, Rayville; 1936-40 Franklin; 1940-46 Canal Street, New Orleans; 1946-53 Istrouma, Baton Rouge; 1953-1959 Superintendent of the Monroe District; 1960-64, Broadmoor, Shreveport; 1964-66 Elizabeth Sullivan Memorial, Bogalusa; 1966-71 Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans.
On December 20, 1986, God called James T. Harris home. The funeral service was held in the Franklinton Methodist Church with his District Superintendent, Dr. Stone Caraway, officiating, assisted by the pastor, Rev. Willis Dear and a close friend, Dr. W. D. Baddie. His remaining family is his wife, Mrs. Core Varnado Harris, two daughters, Mrs. Fran Shelley Curry arid Mrs. Judy Frank Harris, and one son, James T. Harris, Jr. There are nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“Well done thy good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1987; p. 314-316 By Bentley Sloane

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