August 4, 1848 - 1935
|“He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and faith” (Acts, 11:24). I know of no man of whom these words can be spoken more truthfully than of Brother Coburn. I can think of no tribute that can be higher and spoken in fewer words. To be good Is better than to be prominent. Though he was prominent, to be good Is better than to be great by the world’s standards, and he was no pigmy in this regard. While be could have measured arms by those standards with most of his fellows, as could Barnabas, of whom the words quoted were originally written, I believe that from his position today he would prefer the distinction of goodness.
He was a good man, physically, 1 am forced to think, in his original condition, before disease made such terrific inroads on his frame. He must have stood, with his six feet of well-proportioned physique, every Inch a man. But that was not the Brother Coburn that we knew. We only knew him after affliction had left its scars. But he was a heroic soul, who could take the hard knocks that fortune dealt, and go on with his fighting—good soldier that he was, he never paused to nurse his wounds. The fires of affliction, that would have disheartened a less heroic soul, only burned out the dross and tempered the mettle of which he was composed. “Life is not an idle ore, but iron dug from central gloom, and heated hot with burning fears, and dipped in baths of hissing tears, and battered with the shock of doom to shape and use.”
Brother Coburn was a good man by the work of grace. His conversion came well on toward middle life. He was born in a Baptist family and reared in a Baptist atmosphere, but he never united with the Baptist or any church for a long time. But when he did yield his heart to God, the work of grace that was wrought has been manifest to all who knew him.
Andrew Jackson Coburn was born at Hindman, Kentucky, on August 4, 1858. He first undertook the study and practice of law, and followed that profession a number of years in Kentucky and Kansas. He was married first to Miss Francis Allen, of which union two sons were born, James and Jay. While in Kentucky he was converted under the preach-ing of one of the Godbys, whose sermon was the first Methodist sermon he had ever heard. But he drifted from the faith and grew cold. Some years later, after the death of his wife, he moved with his children to Atchison, Kansas, and there engaged in the practice of his profession.
Two events in Kansas changed the entire course of his life. First, he met and married Miss Mamle Winterringer, on October 13, 1891, who shared his life for forty years. Of this union two sons were born. William J. and Andrew Lee. The second of these events in Kansas was his reclamation under the ministry of Rev. Beverly Carradine, who held a revival in Atchison. Moving back to Kentucky, Brother Coburn was licensed to preach, and in September. 1897, be joined the Western Vir-ginia Conference and served the Liberty Circuit the first year. Following that, he served the Glenville Circuit two years. He developed lung trouble and, at his physician’s advice, transferred In the autumn of 1900 to the Louisiana Conference. With his family, he came down the Ohio and Mississippi on a steamboat and landed about the middle of December at Baton Rouge, where the Conference was about to convene under the presidency of Bishop Galloway. From that Conference he was sent to East Feliciana Circuit en which he served a year. During 1902-03 he served the Denham Springs charge. Here his health was so impaired that he took the superannuate relation, remaining at Denham Springs for two more years. Here he buried his youngest son, Andrew Lee. In 1906-07 he served St. Martinville charge, one that had been blessed in early Methodist history by the labors of the saintly Nolley. He served Farmerville four years. 1908-11. At the close of that period his health was again greatly impaired, and he took the supernumerary relation and moved to Texas, supplying Fowlerton and Seadrift, 1912-13. Resuming the effective relation, he again served in Farmerville, 1914-15. He served Clinton four years, 1916-19. He thought of his work at Farmerville and at Clinton as the peak of his ministry. In Ponchatoula, where his last years were spent, his memory is as ointment poured forth. A host of friends remember him kindly and esteem him highly. And scores date their conversion from his pastorates. From Clinton he was sent to Ponchatoula, to serve there during 1920-21. Then serving Kentwood for the last four years of hi~ active ministry, he superannuated in November 1925, and, after a few months in Kentwood, moved to Ponchatoula, where he was universally loved and honored.
It has twice been the writer’s privilege to be the pastor of super-annuated preachers in the last years of their lives. Early in my ministry I was blessed with the association of Brother Manly, and for the last two years Brother Coburn has been in my congregation, to enrich my experience and, with his unctious Amens to turn many a dry service into an experience of triumph. I can bear witness from my association with these two brethren that superannuation does not necessarily mean the end of a man’s ministry. In the cases of these two men their ministry continued rich with fruitfulness and abundant in labors. And they have placed before me a new kind of service In a period to which I had looked forward with dread. It Is to settle down, after the spirit—grown ripe In the ministry—shall lack a body strong enough to stand the wear and tear of our itinerant program, to the task of re-enforcing the ministry of some younger man and of trying to make available some not yet out-worn parts of this old machine to help others do the work better.
In his superannuate period Brother Coburn underwent great sorrow. His son, Jay, who had followed him into the ministry and was a pastor In the Mississippi Conference, while on a visit to his parents, suffered an attack of appendicitis, went to New Orleans for an operation and died under the knife. The two Itinerants, father and son, rest together in the Ponchatoula cemetery.
“Servant of God, well done!
“He rests from his labors, and his works do follow him.”
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Pages 81-84, 1935, by H. N. Brown|