The M. L. Harris UMC evolved from the Simpson Chapel MECS, which had been located in historic downtown Columbus since the late 1880s. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Simpson Chapel membership, and trustees, under the pastorate of Rev. Matthew Robinson and Rev. T. A. Bryant, set in motion the foundation for relocating the church to a larger sanctuary in a thriving community. The trustees at this time were Mr. Henry Coleman, Mr. Edward Cosby, Mrs. Ola Holland, M. Wylie Jackson, Mrs. Louise Jones, Mr. Lorenzo Mabry, Mrs. Annie Munn, Mr. Willie Pritchett and Mrs. James Wright. These people led the church in moving to the developing Cedar Hills subdivision and built the little stone church at the corner of Bedford Ave. and Old Cusseta Rd. The opening service was held on April 24, 1966, under the pastorate of Rev. Thomas E. Hines, Jr. The church was renamed in honor of Rev. Marquis Lafayette Harris, Methodist bishop, and mentor to Simpson Chapel. The UMC was created two years after M. L. Harris opened.
Since it's opening in 1966, this church has only had four pastors. Rev. Dr. William B. Howell served from 1968-1992 and under his leadership membership increased, the sanctuary was enlarged, a fellowship hall was added, Sunday school classrooms were built, the parking lot paved and a daycare facility was created. Rev. Gregory K. Blue served from 1992-2000, Dr. Sharon Adams Crooms served from 2000-2003 and Rev. Earl S. James started in 2003.