March 22, 2013
Died: Gordon Cosby, Iconic D.C. Pastor Who 'Revolutionized' Christian Activism
Cosby integrated discipleship with social activism.
Iconic District of Columbia pastor and Christian social activist Gordon Cosby died this week, leaving behind a legacy of ministries across the nation's capital.
Cosby and his wife Mary founded Church of the Savior in Washington D.C.’s Addams Morgan neighborhood in the 1940s, and the church went on to form dozens of churches, charities, schools, and even a hospital for the homeless, Christ House, where Cosby himself died Wednesday. He was 94.
His ministry “foreshadowed both the missional and emergent church movements,” according to Associated Baptist Press.
“Gordon Cosby and the Church of the Savior were one of the most important reasons that Sojourners decided to come to Washington in 1975. And we have been spiritually intertwined ever since,” said Jim Wallis, who called Cosby the most Christian person he knew.
Cosby interpreted the call to discipleship as an integration of two journeys: an inward journey of growth in love of God, self and others, and an outward journey to mend creation. Inspired by that vision, the congregation quietly fueled what the Post called a revolution in faith-based activism with an array of ministries for its inner-city neighborhood.
Cosby retired in 2009, but the ministries and various communities formed by Church of the Savior continued on.
Pastors across the country have remembered and paid tribute to Cosby as a mentor and an inspiration.
“Others have said that Gordon and the Church of the Savior have had a greater impact on the Protestant church in America over the past 50 years than any other institution or movement,” wrote Methodist pastor Dean Snyder for the Washington Post. “Gordon probably never really got the credit he deserved for the impact he and the Church of the Savior have had.”
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove compared his visit with Cosby to a pilgrimage to see a living saint and referred to him as a “life-long servant leader.”