Christian 04

Sherman L. Harris

September 1, 1927 ~ April 7, 2022 (age 94)

Tribute

Superintendent Sherman Luke Harris, called by many as the "The Bishop of San Jose,” "The Million Dollar Preacher," and "The Walking Bible," went home to be with the Lord on the morning of Thursday, April 7, at age 94.
 
He was born on September 1, 1927, in Bordelonville, Louisiana, to Russell and Virginia Harris. He left Louisiana at the age of 16 with a 7th-grade education and traveled across the country by "hobo express," with his final destination being San Jose, CA. 
 
God gifted him with a voice to sing, which allowed him to perform with many great artists; Sam Cooke was one of them. Later he sang with a group called the Friendly Brothers. At 19, he was ready to sign a recording contract with a secular label, but God had other plans. At 20, he heard the message of Christ, accepted Jesus as his Savior, and started singing for the Lord.

 

He served under his pastor, Bishop Milton Matthis, for 23 years at the Prayer Garden Church of God in Christ in San Jose, CA. God called Superintendent Harris into the ministry while at Prayer Garden. He married Mary Etta Barker, and they were together for 49 years until God called her home. They had four children—the late Russell, Ronnie, Lynda, and Alicia "Lisa."

 

He was drafted into the US Army and served two years as a conscientious objector because, as a minister of God, he refused to bear arms and take a life. After receiving an honorable discharge, he used the GI Bill to further his education and became a licensed B-1 contractor. As a bi-vocational minister, Sherman Harris & Sons Contractors was a very successful business for over 25 years until he retired and served full-time in the ministry.

 

In 1969, he was ordained as a pastor and opened the Eastside Church of God in Christ (COGIC) on San Antonio Street in San Jose, CA. The congregation outgrew that facility, and God blessed him to purchase the property at 2490 Story Road in San Jose. At the time, it was an open field with an old bank building. God showed him a vision of young children and that he was to build a place for them. So Superintendent Harris built the Sherman Harris Youth Center first, and Eastside COGIC had services there until he built the church next door to the Center. In addition, he designed, renovated, and built over 15 churches in California and renovated residential homes of some church members and others. He received calls from pastors across the country asking for assistance with drawing plans for their church or youth centers.

 

In 1968, Superintendent Harris ran for public office in the Mayfair District of San Jose and won by a landslide. He served as Chairman of the Mayfair District with 42,000 constituents. Under his leadership, the Mayfair District received paved streets, improved schools, the opening of an Eastside police substation, and a $150,000 grant to build the Mayfair Youth Center. Mayfair evolved into the model city program.  

 

In 2001, God planned his meeting with Lillie B. Stephens at a friend's home, and they were married on December 15 of that year. He said, "The Lord dropped a love for "Lil" in my heart." They were married for over 20 years. They enjoyed continuing the ministry work at Eastside, singing songs of worship and praise together, and taking their boat out riding and fishing with friends. 

 

He lived in San Jose for over 75 years, served in ministry for over 74 years, and pastored for 53 years. In September 2021, he was honored with the title of Pastor Emeritus. His outreach work at ECOGIC included offering weekly community basketball nights for youth and men (he was a full participant up until the age of 84), a full-service food pantry serving over 130 families weekly, and Christmas gifts and school backpacks for children.

 

He served in numerous positions in the church and under five Jurisdictional Bishops (the late Bishop Matthis, Bishop B.R. Stewart, Bishop Robert R. Carr, Bishop Joseph C. Jenkins, and Bishop Michael J. Johnson). In addition, he served as State Parliamentarian, Dean of Religious Education and Training, State Sunday School Superintendent, State Auxiliaries in Ministry President, Executive Board Member, Chairman of Ordination Board (responsible for training and submitting for ordination over 200 ministers, of which many have become pastors), Elder Statesman, and District Superintendent.

 

As a citizen of San Jose, he has received numerous commendations letters and resolutions for services rendered, to name a few: in 2003, he was awarded "Pastor of the Year" by Bishop Robert R. Carr of the Greater Northern California Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction; in September 2015, he received the Inaugural Black Legend Hall of Fame award in the "Spiritual" category; and on February 14, 2019, ECOGIC and Superintendent Harris were entered into the Congressional record for 50 years of service to the City of San Jose by President Ronald Reagan, Congressman Norman Mineta, and US Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren.

 

Superintendent Harris was preceded in death by his parents, siblings, wife, Mary Etta and son Russell Harris. He leaves to cherish his memory and continue his legacy, his devoted wife in love and ministry for 20 years, Lillie; three children, Ronnie (Ruth) Harris, Lynda (Tina McLennan) Harris, and Alicia Harris; four stepchildren, Tracy (Sheila) Stephens, Lashanor (Charles Jr.) Doolittle, Sandra Stephens, and Janice Stephens; and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, other relatives, the Eastside COGIC family, and many friends.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Sherman L. Harris, please visit our floral store.


Services

Visitation
Friday
April 22, 2022

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Eastside Church of God in Christ
2490 Story Road
San Jose, CA 95122

Funeral Service
Friday
April 22, 2022

11:00 AM
Eastside Church of God in Christ
2490 Story Road
San Jose, CA 95122

Committal
Friday
April 22, 2022

1:30 PM
Oak Hill Memorial Park
300 Curtner Ave.
San Jose, CA

Cemetery

Oak Hill Memorial Park
300 Curtner Ave.
San Jose, CA

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