Southwestern Mourns the Passing of Distinguished Alumnus
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS)-Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary lost a dear friend Nov. 27, when Dr. James E. Coggin, pastor emeritus of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, went home to be with the Lord. He was 86.
Coggin, who received a Master of Theology in 1946 and a Doctor of Theology in 1949 from Southwestern, was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1973. His wife, Carolyn, also a Southwestern graduate, received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993. He served as president of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees from 1967 to 1969 and again from 1981-1982.
“Dr. Coggin was a consistent friend and marvelous supporter of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an ardent advocate of the city of Fort Worth,” said Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary. “His years as pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church and his trusteeship at Southwestern were memorable years of humble service to Christ and to the Southern Baptist Convention. I will miss him greatly.”
Copies of his book, “What’s the Difference?,” which highlights the differences between Baptists and other denominations, were distributed to all seminary students in 1968 as a courtesy by interested laymen. The book’s two major divisions, What Baptists Believe and What Others Believe, address beliefs related to the Bible, the Trinity, salvation, immersion, the ordinances and Baptist heritage.
Active in state and convention-wide affairs, Coggin was elected president of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference (1965) and first vice-president of the Southern Baptist Convention (1972). Additionally, he served on the Texas Baptist Executive Board and was a trustee of Dallas Baptist University and East Texas Baptist College.
In his college and seminary days, Coggin pastored churches in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas. After receiving his doctorate in 1949, he pastored the Ridgeway Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He then served the First Baptist Church of Texarkana, Texas before assuming his longest pastorate, Travis Avenue, which lasted 24 years. Upon retiring in 1983, he served as interim pastor of churches in the Fort Worth area and First Baptist, Rio de Janeiro.
Dr. Coggin is survived by his wife of sixty-four years, Carolyn Garrick Coggin, three daughters, eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. His daughter Olivia Coggin Eudaly also earned a master’s degree from Southwestern.