Ready for Coker History? Because of the heroic war efforts of John Coker, John “Jack” Coker was awarded a grant of land that now houses Coker Methodist Church. Coker was born in 1883. Worship happened in a schoolhouse located where the Coker cemetery is and then the first church building was built in 1885. In the 1920s, Coleman lanterns were used to light evening services. Imagine the volunteer job description of Albert Bailey. You see, on occasion the lanterns would become too hot and become an explosion-risk. When this happened it was the job of Albert Bailey to grab the lantern and throw it out the window before it exploded.
Fast forward to 1937, as war clouds were building in Europe and Asia, numbers of people were growing at Coker. Coker encompassed land which was considered the far north side of San Antonio. Most businesses around Coker were farm and dairy. Alexander Joske, owner of Joske Department Store, built a home on North Loop Road. This became a famous restaurant and many people would ride their buggies (and later automobiles) to eat at the Joske House. This was a beloved day trip which made more and more people aware of the area- and more and more people began to build there.
By 1968, the church membership of Coker had grown to 600 people and the yearly budget was $40,500. By 1972, Coker’s growth continued as San Pedro became a four-lane divided highway with a center strip of grass, flowers, and oak trees. Also in 1972, Coker welcomed our first full-time Associate Pastor, Rev. Jeffrey. Rev Jeffrey had a vision to organize Coker’s congregation into “class meetings” much the same as John Wesley and the early American Methodists had done. The class meetings were sure to be a success and some guidelines included:
- Each adult member of the church was to be a member of the class meetings. Each class was composed of around 15 members.
- Each class had a class leader. The leader felt “called” to lead and was voted into leadership for a specified time.
- Classes met in homes.
- A weekly study guide including Bible study and discussion questions were essential for class success.
- Class leaders and pastors needed regular leadership training.
- Weekly preaching led to the success of the classes
- Regular attendance & accountability developed responsible Christian living.
- Responsible Christian living and growth led to evangelism.
While taking on various names (for example: Care Groups, BAND Meetings, etc.) over the years, the goals remained the same- to worship together and to grow in Christ-Likeness through a smaller gathering of approximately 15 people.
Coker is rich with history. Much of Coker’s history is documented in the book “God’s Work We Carry On,” which tells the story of Coker spanning the years 1883 to 1993. Our historian, Mary Eck, plus a team around her work to preserve the stories of God’s work through Coker.
So, where are we now? Beginning in 2010, Coker hosted a series of Prayer services to bring Healing and Wholeness. A program bulletin explained that “Christian healing is a process that involves the totality of our being- body, mind, emotion, spirit, our social context- all directs us towards becoming the person God is calling us to be at every stage of our lives and even into death and life eternal with God.” When we are in complete surrender, repentance, and acceptance of Jesus- the Holy Spirit can begin to peel back the layers and heal us from trauma (brought by ourselves or others), diseases, injuries, and more. To continue to refine us into the image of Jesus- on earth as it is in heaven. This may sound complex, but theologian John Wesley described it as “sanctification” and a lifelong process of becoming “perfected in love.” When we join a relationship with God, repent, profess Jesus as our Savior, are in Christian community, are open to wholistic healing, and allow other trustworthy Christians to hold us accountable- we grow towards a perfect love.
Today, Coker holds many of the Biblical values that have long been woven into the tapestry of our church. We still believe in salvation through Jesus Christ and sanctification. Our worship services reflect our community! Our chapel hosts our 8 AM Service with hymn sings and a more intimate atmosphere. Our sanctuary and the internet host our 9:30 AM service with contemporary worship songs, and a group that gathers after the service to unpack the sermon. Our Sanctuary and the Internet hosts our 11 AM service, with more traditional elements and our Chancel Choir. We host an 11 AM service in Spanish, and we recently welcomed the La Cabaña congregation into Coker for a 1 PM Service- both meet in the Upper Room of Gibbs. Being filled with the love of Jesus, and seeing needs in the community, Coker also hosts a weekly food pantry distribution which feeds approximately 1200 people weekly. Healings continue when prompted by the Holy Spirit. Recently we have seen inner healings during deep personal times in prayer, during a High School Mission trip, during worship nights and more. We have eyes and ears open to where God is leading us next, and in the word our current Sr Pastor often says “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.”
Coker will celebrate our 140th Anniversary on October 15. If you’d like to learn more about Coker’s history, you can visit theRector Building that day to look at archives on display. We will worship at 11 AM on October 15 (ONLY ONE SERVICE THAT DAY- AT 11 AM). All are invited to stay for lunch in the gym afterward. You can purchase lunch tickets in advance, or purchase food from the food trucks on the day-of. Details at Coker.org/Events.
The paintings pictured above are by Coker member, Myrna Ellison, and is on display in the Gibbs Building lobby.
If you are reading this article after October 15, 2023- feel free to direct any questions on Coker’s History to firstname.lastname@example.org