DALLAS, TX — Retiring Christian Index Editor J. Gerald Harris was honored during the June 11 meeting of state Baptist paper editors during their fellowship meeting here. The dinner was held prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Harris completed 15 years as editor of the nation’s oldest continuously published Christian newspaper on June 23. He began his stint as editor in 2003 after nine years as pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta.
In addition to serving as pastor of Peachtree Corners Baptist Church in Norcross, he had served as pastor of churches in North and South Carolina as well as Mississippi. Harris is a former president of the Georgia Baptist Convention and served on several key committees of the Southern Baptist Convention.
He has written for several publications, especially LifeWay Christian Resources, and is the author of four books and a graduate of Southeastern Seminary. But it is in his role as editor that he has played a much larger role in regularly promoting a biblical world view through his award-winning editorials and stories.
Through the past 15 years he has navigated the difficult waters of declining circulation and advertising revenue and drastically increasing mailing costs as print publications strove to compete in an increasingly digital age. He guided the historic newspaper in its transition from print to a fully digital online publication on January 1, 2016.
In the past 2.5 years he has brought the newspaper to a vastly expanded worldwide readership. By his retirement on Dec. 31 web analytics are expected to register more than 1,000,000 page views.
Index Web Content Editor Scott Barkley was promoted to editor on June 1 and Harris, 77, was named senior editor through the end of the year. Managing Editor Joe Westbury and Editor’s Administrative Assistant and Advertising Manager Donna Ward will round out the staffing of the newspaper. Ward will retire on Aug. 31 with 22 years of service.
He plans to continue his writing and preaching ministry following his retirement.
Harris and his wife, the former Martha Jean Maxwell of Newnan, are parents of a daughter, Miriam, who is married to Billy Godwin who serves as pastor of Ephesus Baptist Church of Douglasville; and twin sons John Mark and Gerald David.
He and his wife are members of Ephesus Baptist Church in Douglasville.
David Williams, editor of the state paper for Minnesota-Wisconsin and president-elect of ASBP, read the Resolution of Appreciation to Harris and the group of fellows editors. The resolution is as follows.
Resolution Honoring J. Gerald Harris
Upon His Retirement as an Editor
WHEREAS, J. Gerald Harris, a native of Hickory, N.C., who was called to preach the gospel as a high school senior on Jan. 29, 1961; and
WHEREAS, he thus began a ministry and journalistic career earning a master’s degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and later a Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary in Jacksonville, Fla., also eventually earning distinctions from Southeastern as Alumnus of the Year (1997) and president of the National Alumni Association (1998); and
WHEREAS, he served with honor and distinction as a pastor in churches throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and the Atlanta metro area; and
WHEREAS, his journalistic leadership as editor of The Christian Index since June 2003 has been reflected in his faithful and active participation in the Association of State Baptist Publications; and
WHEREAS, he has contributed as a writer to other Southern Baptist publications, such as devotions for Open Windows and HOMELIFE, both of LifeWay Christian Resources, and the Baptist Record, state paper for Mississippi Baptists, as well as Sunday School lessons for the Baptist Courier, state paper for South Carolina Baptists, and LifeWay Christian Resources; and
WHEREAS, he has been recognized in his career for award-winning editorials through the Baptist Communicators Association and overseen The Christian Index’s move into an online format that has witnessed tremendous digital growth since its inception in January 2016;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the grateful members of the Association of State Baptist Publications, meeting at the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas, do express their heartfelt appreciation to J. Gerald Harris on this date June 11, 2018.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLOVED that the members of the Association of State Baptist Publications wish him and his wife, Martha Jean, the best in their further course of ministry during Dr. Harris’ retirement set to begin at the end of 2018.