Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Passing of A Spiritual Father

   I cannot believe that he is gone. I cannot help but picture the man, Cortez A. Cooper, Jr., "Corty" to his friends, as alive, vibrant, warm, and very confident of the Hope of the Gospel he so ardently believed and lived to the fullest. The streets of heaven are even now ringing with the sound of his warm chuckle and his eyes are sparkling with delight at the magnificent display of the Glory of God. He is home.
    I was a wayward child who had wandered from the fold of God. I had a dear friend who would come knocking on my dorm room each Sunday to coax a freshman girl at Vanderbilt out of bed to attend services at First Presbyterian Church on Franklin Road in Nashville. To a small town girl, this church, with its Cheek House mansion, stables, and school spread over beautifully manicured acres,  looked more like a country club than a house of worship. But I could not have been more wrong. Something amazing was happening in those church services.  
     A pastor was taking the church and the city by storm. God was also using the man to woo not just my heart, but many others back to the Truth. A revival that had begun in the early 70's was finding new growth and momentum in its movement toward maturity.  This revival would ultimately lead years later to the founding of a new church (Christ Presbyterian Church) pastored by Corty. As for me, at first I could not understand why Sunday after Sunday, I sat in the sanctuary at First Pres and wept. It did not matter whether the sermon was serious and sober in nature or more encouraging in tone and tenor, I always found myself overcome with emotion. Sometimes when the service was over, I could hardly speak...certainly a rarity for me.
    At this point in my life, I was a young woman who had always run from emotion and had spent some time also running from God. I was fine and I was strong, or so I thought. But something was happening to me as I sat under Cortez Cooper's solid, strong, and powerful Biblical teaching, my heart that had been frozen with regards to God, was undergoing a great change. God was waking me up, as if from a deep slumber, He was quickening my spirit, and I was coming alive. I resisted for a time, but the Holy Spirit was using Corty Cooper to draw me as inexorably to the Truth of the Gospel as a magnet is drawn to the North.
    The Husband and I soon found our spiritual home in that church. We were welcomed into Corty and Pat's home and introduced to church members and other families with whom we would labor and minister in the years to come. Shortly after The Husband and I married, we found ourselves drafted by Corty into the Youth Ministry of the Church. It was a sign of his influence in our lives. Week after week we sat under this man's teaching and enjoyed life in a vibrant and growing church community. Corty Cooper baptised three of our four children, affording us the privilege of incorporating each child's "life verse" into the baptism service. It was also he that I sought out for advice and counsel when my own grandmother languished in a coma for several years before she passed away. He tenderly took me to the scriptures and encouraged me to struggle and grieve what I could not seem to understand or embrace.
Dr. Cortez Cooper
Dr. Cortez A. Cooper, Jr.
    I did not grow up with a father. But I was blessed to learn much from a pastor who taught me the love, the kindness, the strength, and the faithfulness of The Father. My grief is immense today. I cannot help but think of Corty's beloved and lovely wife Pat and how much she must already miss this vital man who loved her so. I think of his family and his children and grandchildren and the sheep of the flock that he was tending in his later years. There are so many who have been tutored by his love for God, his passion for the Gospel and the wisdom of his solid grounding in the Word.

    For me, one of the great men of God of our generation has now gone to be with the Lord. I cannot help but cry just as I did those many years ago when I was a girl of 18 and being drawn back to the arms of the Father. Corty, thank you for teaching me of the great, great love of the Father. Thank you for being faithful in things great and small. I and many others will miss your smile, your grace, and your powerful love for God. Heaven is blessed tonight to have a precious son of the Father who is beholding the face of the One he loved in life, in death, and in life everlasting. May you find joy in the fullness of your inheritance in Christ until we meet again.


  1. Beautiful tribute to Pastor Corty. He baptized me at age 9 in 87' in Walnut Creek, CA. He will be greatly missed. I am so sad about his passing. I'm still in shock having found out by Googling his name due to writing an autobiographical piece.


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