Rev. Dr. Cortez Cooper, former PCA moderator, died on October 25 at age 80. He suffered a heart attack.
In his 51 years as an ordained teaching elder, Cooper ministered in a wide range of capacities. He pastored churches in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, California and Montgomery from 1960-1994, served as Knox Theological Seminary’s first president from 1994 – 1995 and led Mission to North America as coordinator from 1995 – 1998. Cooper was elected moderator of the PCA General Assembly in 1990.
Cooper’s brother-in-law Rev. Preston Sartelle said that while Cooper could have easily stayed as pastor at a large church, he chose instead to participate in church planting and different aspects of ministry. “He was very versatile, “ Sartelle said. Cooper planted churches in Nashville and the San Francisco Bay area.
In 1999 Cooper returned to pastoral ministry as pastor of Draper’s Valley Presbyterian Church in Draper, Va. His father-in-law and brother-in-law had both previously pastored the church, and his wife, Pat, grew up in the church’s manse.
Rev. Robert Davis, senior pastor at Draper’s Valley Presbyterian, said Cooper is “very highly regarded” at the church. “People are in great grief,” he said.
Cooper officially retired in 2003, but he lived what Sartelle called a “very active retirement.” From 2003 – 2011 Cooper served as stated supply at six different churches. At the time of his death he was working as stated supply at Valley Presbyterian Church in Lutherville, Md.
Throughout his ministry he also served on boards at a number of institutions, including Covenant College, King College and Bethany Christian Services.
Cooper was born in Thomasville, Ga., in 1931. He received his M.Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1960 and his D. Div. from King College in 1973. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, four children, 10 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service for Cooper will be held at Draper’s Valley Presbyterian Church on Saturday, October 29, at 11 a.m.