On Sunday, November 21, 2021, the hand of God was extended to His servant and friend, James Edward Hamms, to come into his rest.
James Edward Hamms was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on October 3, 1946, to Mancy Hamms, Jr. and Grace Ann Shanks-Hamms. Five years later, Mancy moved his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and created a home there.
James received his formal education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School. However, he did not receive his actual diploma until May of 2013 when the State of Pennsylvania honored many Vietnam Veterans who presented themselves to the United States of America for military service in 1964. These young men had foregone their education to serve our country and were later awarded their earned diplomas.
James entered the United States Marine Corps in 1964 and retired in 2000. During his years of service, James was honored to receive several distinguished awards: National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Upon his return to the United States from two tours of war, he was transferred to the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
James reconnected with and married Dolores Harris who had two children which he embraced as his own, Eli and Sharmeka. The blessing of an additional child was given to James in the person of Maurice Randolph at the age of thirteen upon the death of Maurice’s mother. As James began to tend his garden with Dolores, he worked in various occupations ranging from the City of Philadelphia to becoming an independent General Contractor.
Later, James accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in 1977 and thereby started his relationship with “discipleship”. From 1979 – 1984, he joined, served, and was ordained at St. Mark AME Church, Lindenwold, New Jersey, under Pastor Charles Williams, his “father-in-ministry” who tragically died in an auto crash. James attended the AME Bible School of Ministry in Atlantic City, New Jersey, while serving at the church as Minister and Bible Teacher.
From 1984 – 1998, Rev. James Hamms became the founder of United Bethel Full Gospel Church in Camden, New Jersey, with Pastor Claudine Phillips as his Assistant Pastor. The focus of the church was to win souls for Christ and discipleship. Other ministries included: Youth Outreach Training, Prayer Outreach Ministry, and the Toys-for-Tots Program. During this same timeframe, he assisted Bishop T. D. Brown of Rosa Primitive Baptist Church, Camden, New Jersey, to transition to St. Rosa Full Gospel Church.
As time continued, Pastor James Hamms joined New Covenant Fellowship Church in Camden, New Jersey, under Bishop Mark Brown and served as Elder, Teacher with the “Bridging the Gap Recovery Ministry” under Elder John Jones, and Leadership Trainer for the Ministers. From 2005 – 2009, Pastor Hamms served at Christ Community Church in Lindenwold, New Jersey, where he served as Elder and Bible Teacher under Pastor Marcia Boyer.
Unfortunately, the challenge of marriage, ministry, and other personal life issues took a toll on his marriage and the union was dissolved. Not to be dismayed, James humbled himself and spent time in prayer, asking God to direct his steps in mind, spirit, and body. He later relocated to Maryland.
In 2011, the Lord blessed James to meet Barbara Parks of Maryland, and they relocated to Texas in 2013, along with his beloved “mother-in-love”, Ruth Butler. Their first stop was Spring, Texas, where they joined Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church and he was appointed by Pastor Christopher Moore, Senior Pastor, over the Prison Ministry, Food Bank Ministry, Drug and Alcohol Ministry, Care Counseling Ministry, and Intercessory Prayer.
From 2009 – 2011, he continued to pursue his formal education in biblical training at New Life Bible & Ministries Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In June 2014, Rev. James Hamms received his Doctor of Divinity from the International Christian University.
After the transition of his Mother-in-Love, Ruth Butler, in October 2016, James and Barbara decided to pursue their dream of relocating to Prosper, Texas, where they currently reside. In June 2021, James and Barbara joined New Life Community Church under Pastor James Hutchins and First Lady Tina Hutchins, and the next season of their lives began.
James enjoyed travel, family (especially his grandchildren, nephews, and nieces), and eating (really eating…restaurants became family and friends). His baritone voice was enjoyable to hear – from singing, telling jokes, and shouting at the TV during football games and Westerns – to special times of counseling and expressions of love. His love for God was what continued to propel him to share the Good News with all he encountered. And his passion for mentoring men kept him on his knees. He asked God for love of wife and family, respect, honor, and happiness – which God answered and blessed him with it all. He was known as “Pop Pete” to the family and “King Pete” to his wife Barbara who held him in the highest of honor. She always smiled and called him “My King”.
Rev. James Hamms played a significant role in the ongoing of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas in various positions. He held 50 years of membership from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Texas. His passion and witness to the Masons was that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!
James was preceded in death by his parents, Mancey and Grace Hamms; brothers, Bruce “Butch” Hamms and Mancey “Puddie” Hamms III; sister, Gloria Jean Griffin; and nephew, Mancey “PJ” Hamms IV.
Those left to cherish precious memories include his devoted and loving wife, Barbara Hamms; aunt, Eloise Matthews (Matriarch of the Family) of Hampton, Virginia; children – Eli (Lovie) Harris, Maurice (Debbie) Randolph, Marcus (Roxanne) Price, Daniel (Sarah) Price, and Sharmeka Harris; brothers – Thomas E. Hamms, Daniel L. Shanks, and John C. Hamms; sisters, Constance McCleave and Lillie Hamms; brothers and sisters-in-love – Brian (Rochelle) Brown, Luttrell (Melinda) Stevenson, Marvin (Lolita) Stevenson, and Michael Stevenson; grandchildren – Johanna Harris, Joshua Harris, Nakia Steele, Myeisha Hamms, Patrick Freeman, Jr., Nadirah Freeman, La’Keya Angelique, Caleb Randolph, Chelsea Price, Marcus Price, Mason Price, Maci Price; a bouquet of great-grandchildren; dear cousin, Richard Bynum; special friends – Pastor Victoria Warner, Ronnie and Cathy Jones, Scott and Robin Turner, Demitria and Jade Turner, and Betty Bennett; and a host of nieces, nephews, family, loved ones, and friends.
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