Joel Eugene Harris of Hutchins, Texas went home to be with the Lord November 9, 2023, at the age of 92. He was a devoted husband, loving father and compassionate friend. Joel was born in Texarkana, Arkansas on December 1, 1930, to Ernest Napoleon Harris and Marion Elizabeth Landers Harris. He attended East Texas Baptist College and went to seminary in California for a time.
Joel met his wife Merva in college. There were the perfect couple – the preacher and the pianist. They were happily married for over 70 years and had 3 children. Joel began his pastorate at Buras Triumph, a mission church in South Louisiana. He also pastored at Oak Grove, Kenwood Baptist in Texarkana, Texas, Shiloh Baptist in Texarkana, Arkansas, and finally First Baptist Church Hutchins, TX from May 1, 1971, to January 31, 2003, when he retired as Pastor. During his service in Hutchins, the church founded a school which served the community for many years. From this outreach, there were a great number of young people brought to the Lord.
Pastor Harris loved people. All people. He also loved the outdoors. He loved to garden and work in his yard. He played softball, and was the pitcher on the team at FBC Hutchins, He loved to go camping with his family. They would load up and go meet extended family and friends, to spend time together as often as possible. He enjoyed working with his hands and started doing wood crafts when he retired. He made wooden bowls, vases, and turned ink pens on this lathe.
Bro. Joel continued to serve the Lord at Farley Street Baptist Church, by doing hospital visitations. Sometimes he literally spent the whole day at the hospital visiting church members before surgery, and staying with the family until the surgery was over. He really enjoyed being able to minister and pray with people during those times and he was a comfort to many.
Joel is survived by his wife Merva, his 3 children and spouses: Allen Harris, Valorie Harris Hatchel (Benny), Connie Harris Breedon (Jamie), nine grandchildren: Adrienne Franklin, Jennifer Downs, Lauren Russell, Zachary Hatchel, Jimmy Breedon, Heather Breedon, Jonathan Harris, David Breedon, Amanda Bartley and 14 great grandchildren. He is also survived by 2 sisters Ann Marlar (Cliff) and Peggy Brimm, and nieces, nephews. He was preceded in death by two sweet grandbabies, his older sister Colleen and older brother Fred.