JOHN LINDEN HARRIS, university professor, administrator, and Baptist minister, was gathered to his heavenly home on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Dallas, Texas.
John L. Harris was born July 13, 1962 in Pensacola, Florida, to Loretta Pearl and John Henry Harris.
He graduated from Berryville High School in 1980, completed his Bachelor of Arts at Central Baptist College, Conway, Arkansas (1984), and the Master of Divinity (1988) and Ph.D. (1994) from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth. He pursued further graduate study at the Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University.
Dr. Harris was a teaching fellow at SWBTS during 1990-1993, teaching classes in The Book of Exodus and Introduction to the Old Testament. His dissertation was titled “Cries of Distress: The Voices of Complaint in the Wilderness Narratives.” John began his career at East Texas Baptist University in 1995 and served as Professor of the Endowed Chair for Christian Studies, Dean of the School of Christian Studies, Chair of the Department of Christian Ministry, and Professor of Christian Ministry until his passing. He directed the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan for its re-accreditation during 2006-2008.
John L. Harris became a Christian at church camp at the age of 11 and entered the ministry when he was a senior in high school. He was licensed to the gospel ministry by Lamar Baptist Church, Arlington, in 1985, and ordained by the Calvary Baptist Chapel, Meridian, Texas, in 1989. He had served previously as pastor at First Baptist Church, Lakeside Village, Texas, 1989-1990; Single Adult Pastor, Lamar Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas, 1985-1986; Minister of Evangelism, Mount Calvary Baptist Church, Conway, Arkansas, 1983-1984; and Youth Pastor, Moore Baptist Church, Berryville, Arkansas, 1980-1981. He was associate pastor at Rush Creek Baptist in Arlington, Texas, 1990-1995. Harris also served as an interim pastor for churches in Conway and Monticello, Arkansas, and Laneville and Gladewater, Texas. John served on various committees of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Harris was the author of numerous scholarly articles and an outstanding scholar, a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, and the National Associations of Baptist Professors of Religion and Professors of Hebrew. Dr. Harris was Favorite Professor at the Tiger Awards, and, on May 7, 2021, was recognized at the ETBU Commencement ceremonies as Professor of Distinction, his son Joshua representing his father there.
John married his high-school sweetheart, LaDonna Tharp, on May 21, 1983. Their sons Jordan and Joshua were born in 1988. He loved being with his family, vacationing in Hawaii, scuba diving, playing golf, watching movies, Seinfeld, the Arkansas Razorbacks, and his little dog, Snoop.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, LaDonna, his twin sons Joshua and Jordan (girlfriend Daphne Snow), his mother Loretta Harris, his brother Doug Harris and wife Debbie, nephews Jimmy Harris (Janet), Erik Gibson (Heather), niece Chandra Anderson (Donnie), and parents-in-law Don and Louise Tharp. He was preceded in death by his sister Gayla Suzann Jones, father John Henry Harris, grandparents Elmer and Lorene Bailey, and his nephew Nicolas Jones.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to: ETBU Christian Ministries Designated Scholarship Fund, Port Caddo Baptist Church, or St. Jude’s Children's Cancer Research.
A time of visitation with his family will be on Thursday, May 13, 2021 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at Sullivan Funeral Home, Marshall, TX. A service to celebrate his life will be held at 10:00 a.m. at the Baker Chapel on the E.T.B.U. Campus in Marshall. Services are under the direction of the Sullivan Funeral Home, Marshall, TX.
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