Remembering Dr. Cortez A. Cooper

Hope Clinic for Women lost a friend last week with the death of Dr. Cortez A. Cooper. One of our founders, he shepherded First Presbyterian Church through a dynamic revival in the 1970s and was the first pastor to lead Christ Presbyterian Church. Although it seems as though he was preaching from a local pulpit just yesterday, he left Nashville in 1985 and subsequently headed congregations in California, Alabama, and Virginia. He was absolutely devoted to Jesus Christ and His Gospel and fused deep convictions with a strong intellectual grasp of Scripture. He was unwavering in his belief in God and His Word. He was prepared to make great personal sacrifices for both.

Most of my memories of Dr. Cooper stem from grammar school days at Oak Hill School and the early years of Christ Presbyterian Church. I recall him as forthright and energetic but never unapproachable or above patting a young man on the head and offering a word of encouragement. He shot straight and delivered sermons that are as moving and profound today as they were thirty years ago.

I last saw Dr. Cooper a few years back at an anniversary service at Christ Presbyterian. I approached him to re-introduce my adult self, saying, “You probably do not remember me.” Before I could finish my sentence, he called me by name, heartily greeting me as an old friend. Amazed at the memory of someone who had doubtlessly counseled thousands, I was also struck by how little his beaming countenance had changed in twenty plus years.

Regardless of how successful he is, I suppose a tough point to being a pastor is wondering if one’s witness is having the desired effect on a congregation. I can recall a young boy, who at a particularly pivotal time in his life, found solace and strength in the Gospel preached by Dr. Cooper. Whether they know it or not, countless people who have walked through Hope Clinic’s doors can say the same.

Jim Gardner
Hope Clinic for Women
Vice Board Chair