James Hoffman Harris

July 14, 1926September 25, 2013

Dr. James Hoffman Harris, 87, Pastor Emeritus of Briarlake Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga., died Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, in Hickory.

He was the sixth child of Leroy and Effie Hoffman Harris, of Augusta, Ga. Dr. Harris attended public school, including Richmond Academy and graduated with an Arts Diploma from the Junior College of Augusta (now Georgia Regents University). He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Baylor University, Waco, Texas; his Master of Divinity from New Orleans Theological Seminary; and an honorary doctorate from Mercer University in 1977. Dr. Harris was founding pastor of Trinity Baptist Church-Biloxi, Miss.; pastor of Patee Park Baptist Church, St. Joseph, Mo.; and Briarlake Baptist Church-Atlanta, Ga., where he served 29 years until his retirement in 1988. While at Briarlake, he helped to sponsor 32 mission churches. Briarlake named the Harris Chapel in honor of Hoffman and Norma Harris and The Harris House, a residential facility for adults with special needs, in honor of Dr. Harris' early ministry. Dr. Harris officiated at over 2,000 weddings and many funerals during his career. In 2007, he moved to Hickory, where he and Mrs. Harris were members of First Baptist Church Hickory. Dr. Harris was very active in denominational and civic life. He served on the Foreign Mission Board; chairman of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention; member of the Home Mission Board; moderator of the Atlanta Baptist Hospital Commission; trustee of Decatur Hospital, Mercer of Atlanta, Shorter College, and the Mainland Council of the Hawaii Baptist Academy. He received the Faculty and Alumni Award from New Orleans Seminary in 1974 for outstanding Pastoral Ministry. Hoffman Harris was a leader--a man of vision and determination. He was generous to friends and strangers alike. He had a keen sense of justice and modeled compassion and respect for people of all cultures and walks of life. He loved to travel, entertain, quote poetry and tell jokes. He found joy in his family, his faith and lifelong learning.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Norma Nuhrah Harris; daughter, Beth Harris Brandes and husband, Dr. Rand Brandes, of Hickory; daughter, Chris Harris and partner, Sally Hand, of San Francisco, Calif.; a grandson, Dr. Blake Harris Brandes and wife, Valerie Brender, of New York City; sister-in-law, Ruth Harris; several nieces and nephews; and his wife's family, whom he cherished: Wyolene Treadway, Norman Joseph, Carl Joseph and their families.

His three brothers, Leroy Harris Jr., Charles Harris and Dan Harris; and his two sisters, Carolyn Hefner and Grace Pearre, preceded him in death. His wife's brother, John Nuhrah, also preceded him in death.

The service will be held at Briarlake Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga., Monday, Sept. 30, at 11 a.m. with burial at Westview Cemetery in Augusta, Ga., at 4 p.m. The family will receive visitors at A.S. Turner and Sons Funeral Home in Decatur, Ga., Sunday, Sept. 29, from 3 to 5 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Briarlake Baptist Church, 3715 Lavista Rd., Decatur, GA, New Orleans Theological Seminary, 3939 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70126, the Hawaii Baptist Academy, 420 Wyllie St., Honolulu, Hawaii 96817 or a charity of choice.

The family also wishes to thank Trinity Village, Hickory and Catawba Valley Medical Center for their compassionate care of Dr. Harris in recent weeks.


James Hoffman Harris

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Lynne Westbrook

February 4, 2014

Pastor Harris gave me my first pink bible when I was born in 1968 and married my husband and I in 2000. I regret I did not know about the memorial until now, but wanted to express my gratitude and celebration of a man who gave so much to many.

John Yarbrough

October 30, 2013

Dr. Harris was always so kind to remember every event in my ministry with a handwritten, kind note. He was an example to me of a kind, compassionate minister.

Rev. 21:3, 4 ~ Kim

September 30, 2013

Please accept my deepest sympathies.

John and Martha Plant

September 30, 2013

No one could have been a more compassionate nor loving Pastor than he was. Patient, comforting and considerate at all times. Gone but not forgotten. He is in the best hands now and forever.

Dorothy Hahn

September 30, 2013

Dearest Norma ...My heartfelt sympathy is with you sll. Stanley and I told you and Hoff that if we retired in Atlanta we wanted you to be our pastor and wife until he retired. Those were special years at Briarlake with you.. May God comfort you and your fanily today and always...We loved you both so much...With so much love and precious memories.....Dorothy Hahn..

Rose and Jim Porterfield

September 30, 2013

What a wonderful legacy you left here at Briarlake. We do celebrate your life and your entry into heaven to hear those wonderful words, "well-done thy good and faithful servant".

Dawne Fowler McCurry

September 30, 2013

We loved Pastor Harris and Norma so much! He baptized and married me and was always such a sweet, special friend to our family. You will be missed but know that you are rejoicing in Heaven!!! Our thoughts and prayers are with Norma and the girls.

Michael Robertson

September 30, 2013

My "Pastor" for 18 years. He baptized me, he married me and kept me in stitches. He told really good jokes! Thanks for many great memories!

Jackie Fuller

September 30, 2013

Norma and Family, my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. So good to see you, hug you and encourage you. What a wonderful man of God Pastor Harris was. He baptized me, my children and grands. I directed many weddings he presided over and enjoyed each one. May God give you pace.

September 30, 2013

Dr. Harris definitely will make heaven a better place. He was always a phone call away 24/7. The Chiles family will miss him.

Anna, Hank and Lindsay Chiles