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Clarence J. Harris

Clarence J. Harris
Clarence J. Harris (March 16, 1873-November 27, 1941) was a minister who served both Universalist and Unitarian congregations. During the early years of the motion picture industry, he wrote hundreds of screenplays. He also organized military-style youth groups, animal welfare organizations, a screenwriter's school, and summer camps for boys.

Harris, the youngest of eight children, was born in Northbridge, Massachusetts to Thomas and Caroline Harris. After graduating from Revere Lay College in Massachusetts and Bangor Theological Seminary, he served Vermont Congregational churches at Windham, Colchester, and Putney during the 1890s and at Crown Point, N.Y., 1899-1900. By 1901, he was in Atlanta as a professor at the Atlanta Congregational Seminary. While there he made a missionary tour of the South, an experience that left a deep impression and would later figure in lectures and sermons illustrating “the quality of cracker and negro preaching.”

In 1902, while still in Atlanta, Harris converted to the Universalist Church. His first assignment was at Winchester, New Hampshire, where he presided during the centennial celebration for the Winchester Profession. In 1904 he was back in Atlanta as pastor of the Universalist Church. Newspaper accounts of his sermons show him, for the most part, expounding on passages from the Gospel and Epistles without controversy. He would at times, though, decry the Pharisaical behavior of some fellow Christians, and a week-long controversy filled The Atlanta Constitution when he sparred with other ministers and the mayor after claiming that the city and its churches turned their eyes from the needs of Atlanta’s poor.
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