Charles Copher, first dean of ITC, dies
NOTE: A head and shoulders photo of Charles Copher is available at http://umns.umc.org/photos/headshots.html
Rev. Charles Buchanan Copher, former member of the Judicial Council and
former dean of a conglomerate of African-American seminaries, died Aug.
15. He was 90.
His funeral will be Aug. 21 at First United Methodist Church, Hyattsville, Md.
1959 Copher became the first dean of the Interdenominational
Theological Center, which brought together United Methodist-related
Gammon Theological Seminary with other traditionally black divinity
schools of other denominations. He had been a professor of Old Testament
at Gammon from 1948-1959. At ITC he served as professor of Old
Testament and languages and was academic dean. He was a vice president
of ITC when he retired in 1978.
In addition to being the first
dean of the theological center, Copher had the distinction of being the
third African-American to hold a doctorate degree in the Old Testament
in the denomination, said retired Bishop James S. Thomas, Atlanta.
Copher was a very strict teacher and held students to a high standard
of performance," he said. ITC established an annual lectureship in
his honor in 1979, and it is ongoing.
The Rev. Oliver Haney,
interim president of ITC said, "We are indebted to Dr. Copher for his
many years of outstanding academic and administrative leadership. It was
under his leadership that ITC's very first academic curriculum was
developed. He leaves us a tremendous legacy."
Copher was elected
to the Judicial Council, the United Methodist Church's highest court, by
the Uniting Conference of 1968. He served two eight-year terms.
received a bachelor of arts degree from Clark College in Atlanta in
1938. He subsequently earned bachelor of divinity degrees from Gammon
and from Oberlin School of Theology. In 1947, he received the Ph.D. from
Ordained a deacon on trial in the Central
West Conference in 1937, Copher attained full connection in 1940 and was
ordained elder in 1941. He transferred his membership to the North
Georgia Annual Conference in 1967.
During his student years, he served churches in Oberlin and Columbus, Ohio, and then in Boston.
member of several academic organizations, Copher was the author of Men
and the Book, 1962; Bible Persons Who Knew God: Old Testament, 1964; and
Bible Persons Who Knew God: New Testament, 1964.
He is survived
by his wife of 64 years, Marie. They were married May 24,1939. The
couple had no children and had lived at Wesley Woods in Atlanta for
several years. The Cophers moved to Maryland in April to be near Marie's
sister. Mrs. Copher may be reached at 14997 Health Center Drive, Bowie,
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