Harris fills void in Unity's pulpit
By By Janet Little Cooper
Lane Harris has been in town for one week after being called as the pastor of Unity Baptist Church.
It only took him a day to realize that the climate in lower Alabama is much different from that of Tennessee where he recently served as pastor of a Baptist church for six years.
However, the humidity and heat is not too much of a shock to Harris. He and his wife, Brenda were both born and raised in Selma and pastored in an Alabama church located in New Brockton for 14 years.
The couple has two sons, Matthew, 29, an Auburn graduate who lives outside of Auburn working as a graphic artist and designer and Austin who is 23 and lives in Elba where he works for Alabama Power.
"We had been looking to come back to the area," Harris said. "I submitted my resume to an old friend, Pat Andrews the director of missions at the Escambia Association. We went to seminary together years ago. He passed my resume on to Unity and they contacted me. I was impressed at how thorough the search committee was. I sent them tapes of a service, they came to hear me preach at a revival in New Brockton and then I preached on Mother's Day here and stayed with them for a week."
Harris filled Unity's pulpit for the first time on Mother's Day for a trial sermon and then after accepting the call, he preached his first sermon as the churches new pastor last Sunday on Father's Day.
According to Harris, he became a Christian late in life at the age of 27. He was working civil service at an Air Force Base in Alabama when he accepted God's call into the ministry.
"My wife and I had joined a church and were working in the church in various positions," Harris said. "I was chairman of deacons there and I just felt God calling me into full time ministry."
Harris had already earned an Associate in Applied Science at George C. Wallace College in Selma, but was led to New Orleans Theological Seminary at the age of 31 to pursue a degree in Pastoral Services. After receiving his associate's degree from the seminary, he pastored his first church in Mississippi.
Harris has been in full time ministry ever since. In his limited free time, Harris enjoys riding his motorcycle and bicycling.
"I started riding my bicycle five years ago," Harris said. "It is a great stress reliever. I start at 6 a.m. because of the heat. I ride an average of 40 to 45 miles a couple of times a week. I go from Hwy. 31 down past the last church in town on 31 and then go the opposite direction and cross the Florida line onto Hwy. 99 and end up at the Mennonite church on the corner of 99 and 97. My motorcycle is still in Tennessee. I haven't brought it down yet. I want to get involved in a bike club here in the area. Tennessee was a wonderful place to ride in. A lot of guys in our church rode. I also like to hunt a little bit. I am a fanatic about turkey hunting. I am definitely an outdoorsman."
Harris is excited about the transition to Atmore and is looking forward to good things happening at Unity Baptist.
"I got the impression that the people in this church needed lifting up," Harris said. "We all get beaten down in life and I think we will have a great ministry here at Unity by walking in faith and trusting God in every step we make. The church has a blended worship service that I was excited about. There are some wonderful people here and wonderful potential. I told the committee that I am not a high speed, high gear preacher with all the charisma, but I told them that I believed we could experience a sustained steady growth if we were willing to let God work."