Tribute: Jan Linn

My Tribute To Gordon Cosby

by Jan Linn,

In 1946 Gordon and Mary Cosby founded the Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C., a community of faith that changed the world. Yesterday Gordon died. He was, I believe, the most visionary American church leader of the 20th century. The great Quaker thinker, Robert Greenleaf, once wrote that nothing great happens without there first being a great dream. Gordon proved that was true.

The Church of the Savior, especially its Wellspring Ministry, changed my life. I say that because they taught me things I never learned in seminary that sent me in a direction in ministry I would have never otherwise gone. Here are some of them that explain why I describe the day I joined Wellspring Ministry in 1973 as the moment I got “saved” from traditional church.

– that commitment is the key to power, not the size of a group. A small group of committed members is always stronger than a larger group with half the members
– that uncommitted members of a group have a debilitating effect on the committed members, and in the process damage their ability to fulfill their mission.
– that the real measure of a church is not what it does when it gathers, but what it does when it scatters.
– that every Christian is called both to discipleship and to ministry
– that the goal of the Christian life is to have the time of your life doing what you feel called to do for God.
– that success for clergy is not the extent to which they have the support of their church members, but the extent to which they are equipping their members for
– that when you don’t know your call to ministry you are susceptible to being jealousy of those who do.
– that Emil Brunner was right when he said the church exists by mission as a fire exists by burning.
– that people don’t have a spiritual gift, they are a spiritual gift.
– that taking risks nurtures discipleship instead of endangering it.
– that covenant is the foundation for real community.
– that following call is the only standard of success that matters.
– that ordained ministry is not about personal advancement.
The Quakers believe God raises up a great voice in every generation. I believe Gordon Cosby was that voice in his. Thanks be to God!