Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rev William Morrow Cook

As one who was privileged to greet the Rev William Morrow Cook on his arrival in this Country, I would like to pay tribute to his memory.
When William came to South Africa with his family he felt very definitely led of God to do so and although he left to pastor churches in other lands, he always retained a very warm place in his heart for South Africa, and for South African Baptists. I think that he felt more at home with us than he did anywhere else. Even in the days of extreme weakness of body, his mind remained clear and his interests were of the denomination he had chosen as his sphere of service.
As I remember him, four things stand out clearly:
Firstly, his warm and genuine love for the Lord Jesus and for His work. His love for the Saviour never waned; indeed, it grew stronger as he was forced to relinquish many activities. Because of his love for Christ he was able to rejoice in what others were permitted to do for the Master while he was denied active ministry he had so much enjoyed.
Secondly, his deep love for the Word of God. William sought always to be faithful to its teachings. He held academic degrees from Glasgow and Indiana Universities and his learning served only to increase his reverence for the Scriptures. His studies in depth made him increasingly sure of the integrity and infallibility of the sacred Book. This love for the Word, and his fidelity to it, made him a preacher whose happiest sermons were expository. William had no time for learning that cast doubts on the authenticity or authority of Scripture. Even if sometimes he was thought “narrow” he did not falter before criticism when he felt that his view was in accordance with the written Word.
Thirdly, William did not mince words. If he felt a thing was right, or wrong, he said so. He was not one who sought a middle road that would condemn no one. Although rich in his love for his brethren and for all men, he sought always to have a conscience void of offence. This fidelity to his conscience did not always gain the approval of others, but he was very aware that their horizon, like his own, was limited and each could only speak as he was persuaded of the truth as he saw it. When once he was sure he had the Lord’s message, he presented it without fear or favour. Crookedness in any form was anathema to him.
A fourth thing must be mentioned. William had a sense of the dignity that belongs to the Christian ministry. He sought to magnify the grace of God in his home, in the pulpit and in the market place. He felt strongly that any man who was called to the Christian ministry should be a man who was an example to his fellows. He never could associate smallness of mind with the “cloth”. If a man wore the “cloth” he should be a man set apart, anointed and a testimony to Christ’s saving power. His own life constantly bore the hall-marks of his dedication to Christ.
His first South African pastorate, of ten years duration, was the Bulwer Road Baptist Church in Durban. From 1946 to 1951 he was Pastor of the Central Baptist Church, Pretoria. After a period of overseas ministry, and some time on the staff of the Durban Bible College, he accepted an invitation to become Pastor of the Grahamstown Baptist Church, a ministry which continued until his retirement to Fish Hoek in 1969.
Alas, since then, he voice was silent because of physical weakness, but his interest in the Baptist Union and the S.AB.M.S. never declined. We recall the happy time when he served on the Executive and of the year in 1944, when he led the Denomination as its President.
Written by: Syd Hudson-Reed

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