I counted it a great honor to speak at the funeral service for our beloved brother and friend, John Norris. We want to pay worthy tribute to this devoted servant of the Lord and feel deep sympathy for Mrs. Norris and the family in their great loss. Few men have manifested to such a degree as our brother the spirit of the Lord who said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” The first verse that came to mind when I heard of his homecall was, “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor 10:1).
“Meekness” is not weakness. Brother Norris was strong in faith, strong in his convictions, and he had the courage to stand firmly for scriptural principles. His diligent study of the Word of God was very evident to us as we heard him expound Scripture. He fitted the description of Isaiah 66:2, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.”
John was saved when he was ten years old through Pentecostal Christians. For ten years he served as a pastor among them. In 1944 he married Margaret who was a true helpmeet to him for almost 55 years. During the early months of their marriage, they were both deeply burdened about unscriptural practices and doctrines in the denomination. They searched the Scriptures diligently with the result that they learned the truth of gathering alone in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and asked for fellowship in the Wellington Street assembly in Ballymena. They were gladly received and very soon brother Norris was encouraged by Mr. David Craig to join him in Gospel work. Commended by the assembly, he gave himself to full time service. Preaching with David Craig, Charles Fleming and Leonard Mullan and in the Lanarkshire tent, he saw numbers of souls saved. He never lost his love for souls and for the blessed privilege of preaching Christ to lost sinners.
In 1956, our brother and sister moved to Canada where for many years they have been a rich blessing. Much gospel work was done on the Canadian Prairies. Some of the most practical ministry that I was ever privileged to hear was given by brother Norris on the Epistle of James. His teaching was devotional and came from a heart that deeply appreciated the love of Christ, but he was also very practical and stirred the consciences of his hearers.
In 1974, Mr. A. W. Joyce asked John to take over as treasurer of the Truth and Tidings. Mr. and Mrs. Norris looked after the subscriptions for a number of years. He became co-editor of the magazine early in 1975 and because Mr. Joyce was in failing health, the work of editing fell on brother Norris. In the spring of 1977, Mr. Norris asked Sydney Maxwell and Norman Crawford to join the magazine staff as associate editors. His own health failed, so that in January, 1979, he became an honorary editor and Alex Joyce, Norman Lorimer, Sydney Maxwell, Robert Reilly and Norman Crawford took over the work of the Truth and Tidings. During these twenty years, Mr. Norris has been a wholehearted supporter and has always sought to encourage us.