Rev. Dock S. Cooper, III
Agape Christian Fellowship | Jackson, MS
M.A. in Christian Studies, WBS Class of 2007
Dock Cooper needed to find a seminary that would make it possible for him to pursue a Masters degree alongside full-time employment in the financial industry. He also was looking for a theological education in line with his upbringing in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. WBS provided just such an opportunity, and Dock credits the seminary with shaping the biblical, theological, and practical framework that makes for fruitful ministry in the local community.
WBS "transformed my approach to reading Scripture," "offered me sound doctrine in a world where such doctrine is undervalued," and grounded me in a "commitment to the missionary nature of the church," Dock responds. Most of all, God used WBS to "shape the evangelist and missionary in me," and prepared me to lead a church "whose different kind of life" functions as a "draw to the neighboring community"—an invitation to "participate in this different kind of life."
In 2006, Dock was led to plant Agape Christian Fellowship, an interdenominational congregation with close theological ties to the Methodist tradition. Through Dock's pastoral leadership, the church plant has grown from forty initial members to a congregation that presently exceeds one hundred members. Now gathering as a congregation on the campus of WBS, Agape Christian Fellowship ministers weekly within the neighborhoods in and around the seminary, and is committed to being a transformative presence in this local, impoverished community.
In August 2010, Dock partnered with WBS (and Wesley Chapel) in the creation of the CrossRoads Community Center. CrossRoads uses sports as a means of promoting health and wellness, literacy and language, educational tutoring, and mentoring in life skills. In its first year, CrossRoads, in collaboration with two local schools, trained eighteen mentors and mentored over one hundred fifth and sixth graders using a curriculum called Ripple Effects. This Fall, the ministry expects to add five new mentors and another forty youth.
In Dock's own words, "We want to join hands with the parents [in the neigborhood] to affect change in families as well as the school system." In and through Dock's leadership (and the help of countless others), his church and WBS are doing more than occupying the corner of Manhattan and E. Northside Drive in Jackson; WBS is moving into the neighborhood and participating in God's redemptive mission in the world.