Published October 17, 2013
James Hoffman Harris, longtime pastor of Briarlake Baptist Church in Decatur, died Sept. 25 in Hickory, NC. He was 87.
Hoffman was a native of Augusta who earned degrees from Baylor University and New Orleans Seminary and given an honorary doctorate from Mercer University. Before coming to Briarlake, his pastorates included the Arlington Mission of Southern Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, LA; assistant pastor at First Baptist Church and founding pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, both in Biloxi, MS; and Patee Park Baptist in St. Joseph, MO.
Harris would then serve 29 years until his retirement at Briarlake. While there he led in building the campus on La Vista Road and helped sponsor 32 mission churches, including Smoke Rise Baptist in Stone Mountain and Atkinson Road Baptist in Gwinnett County. The Harris Chapel at Briarlake is named after he and his wife, Norma, and The Harris House, a residential facility for adults with special needs, was named in honor of his early ministry.
In retirement he was interim pastor at Dunwoody Baptist Church for six months. During his ministry he served in leadership for the Foreign Mission Board and Home Mission Board as well as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Harris is survived by his wife of 63 years, Norma Nuhrah Harris; daughters Beth Brandes, of Hickory, NC, and Chris Harris, of San Francisco, CA; and a grandson.
Shirley Jackson, longtime missionary to Brazil and Georgia Baptist, died Sept. 27. She was 89.
Jackson served in Brazil through the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) for 32 years. An Arkansas native, she grew up in Natchez, MS and would later be a member at different times of Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta and Clairmont Hills Baptist Church in Decatur.
Jackson is survived by her sisters, Maxine Lewis, of Chamblee, and Betty Marshall, of Baker, LA.
Longtime Macon pastor Garry Willis, 62, died Aug. 28.
Willis was born in Hawkinsville and would go on to graduate from Brewton-Parker College and attend Luther Rice Seminary in addition to serving with the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. After serving as pastor at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Butler, he would move into that position at Calvary Baptist Church in Macon Baptist Association for 31 years.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Gail Sutton Willis, of Macon; daughters Kerrie Welch, of Bolingbroke, and Amy Rouse, of Forsyth; a sister, Wanda Darley, of Macon; and four grandchildren.
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