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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Touched By a Giant

Church of the Savior's Gordon Cosby
Gordon Cosby, founding pastor of the Church of the Savior in Washington, DC, died Wednesday at age 94. He chose to spend his last days in hospice care at Christ House, a medical facility for the homeless, one of the many ministries of his Church.

Ron Copeland, a local founder of Our Community Place and pastor of the Early Church, shared with some of our local pastors how influential he was in his life, taking time to correspond with Ron as one of many younger leaders he mentored and encouraged.

A long time admirer of Cosby, I was glad to hear him a number of years ago at one of the sessions I was a part of in a week at the Wellspring Conference Center, yet another outreach of the Church of the Savior.

After speaking with the group and exiting the room to go to another appointment, he turned to make a final point before leaving, standing right next to where I was sitting. As he made his comments he, for no particular reason, placed his hand on my shoulder. He didn't know me and wasn't singling me out in any way, but I'll never forget the warm feeling it gave me to feel blessed by the touch of this gracious, Christ-like leader. Just a simple and spontaneous gesture, but one I will never forget.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners, another Christian ministry in DC, writes that when he visited his longtime mentor on one of his last days, he said, in his "deep graveling voice", “I am enjoying dying.” He also reported Gordon as once saying to a pastor who had expressed disappointment that his new church had only 15 people, “Wow. Fifteen people is amazing!”

As a pastor of a house church congregation, I can identify with that.

According to Wallis, Cosby chose to keep a relatively low profile, turning down most of his many invitations to speak, never needing or wanting to be out front or become a famous public figure. He instead chose to spend most of his time quietly working with a relatively small group of people who trying to “be the church” in Washington, D.C.: the Church of the Savior.

If only I could follow Jesus even half as well as he did.
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