The Rev. Wayne Coffin is being remembered as a meticulous organizer and gentle and helpful colleague by fellow former members of the United Methodist Judicial Council.
Coffin, a retired clergy member of the Oklahoma Conference, died July 4 in Oklahoma City at the age of 95. A memorial service is planned later at Crown Heights United Methodist Church, where he was a member, but a date has not been set.
He was an elected clergy member of the denomination’s top court from 1980-96 and served as Judicial Council secretary during his second eight-year term.
Sally Curtis AsKew — who served with Coffin during her first term on the Judicial Council, from 1988-96 — said she had spoken with him in recent months. While a quiet and private person “in many respects,” she noted, Coffin played a vital role in the council’s operations.
“He was meticulous about everything,” AsKew explained. “Careful attention was paid to every sentence and every word in an opinion.”
Coffin also compiled the index for the 1988 and 1992 bound volumes of Judicial Council decisions. “At that point, there was no index or any way to search decisions, except in the quadrennial bound volumes,” she said.
The Rev. Ted H. Walter, who served with Coffin from 1992-96, called him “a gift” to both the church and the council. “His knowledge of the judicial decisions enabled the members of the council to develop and create sound decisions,” Walter said. “His recall of the history of previous decisions frequently added strength to the issue being considered.”
The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe recalled how Coffin quietly helped her, as a newcomer, when her first term on the court began in 1992. “He was such a gentle person,” she said. “I respected him so much and I learned a lot from him.”
Born in Pampa, Texas on Aug. 18, 1923, Coffin earned a bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University and a master’s of divinity from Duke University. Within the Oklahoma Conference, he served as pastor of several churches and as the conference treasurer and director of finance. Coffin was on the board of trustees of Oklahoma City University for 25 years and received the university’s Distinguished Service Award in 1981.
In 1968, Coffin was a delegate for Oklahoma when Oklahoma City hosted the first South Central Jurisdictional Conference of the newly-formed United Methodist Church, drawing other delegates from 25 annual conferences and 10 episcopal areas.
He was married to Kathleen Wilder for more than 62 years until her death in 2009. He is survived by their three children: Pamela, St. Louis; Priscilla, Vail, Colorado; and Scott, St. Michael, Minnesota.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Crown Heights Memorial Fund or to Skyline Urban Ministry, 500 SE 15th, Oklahoma City, OK 73129.
Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York.
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