Alumni Council Spotlight: Rev. Carol Cooper
How did you come to know the Lord?
I was raised in the church and I honestly don’t remember a time I didn’t believe in God or love the church and Jesus. When I was in the 4th grade I was at a church camp in Oklahoma and it was there I decided I wanted to follow the Lord and attend church and not just because my parents told me I had to…then in college I doubted if I was saved, as I had never said a specific prayer, so my small group leaders prayed with me. I wouldn’t say that was when I was “saved” but I would say I had an assurance I didn’t have before. My life with the Lord has been a consistent journey—one of grace and mercy when I would stray, but God has always been constant. One of my mentors likes to say that salvation is a moment in our lifetime, but a lifetime of moments, and I think that perfectly sums up my coming to know the Lord.
How were you called to ministry?
When I was 16 years old my family moved from Montana to Colorado. My youth group in Montana was incredibly special to me and leaving them was incredibly difficult. Although I found a wonderful church home in Colorado, I still did all I could with my Montana church. The Montana church picked me up on their way to McCurdy School in Espanola, New Mexico and it was on that trip I heard my call…one of my dear friends and I were talking about where we would go to college and what we wanted to do. I shared with her I wanted to give back to the church the way all my leaders had given to me throughout my life and it was as if the voice of God spoke through her, telling me I was to go into ministry. When I shared this with my Youth Pastor and family, they affirmed this was my calling. I have a picture framed in my office of my friends and my feet from the day we had this conversation…it reminds me daily of our talk and my call.
How did you decide to come to Asbury?
In 1994 my pastor Randy Jessen and his wife Sue brought me and another youth from Colorado to Wilmore to attend Ichthus. I fell in love with Wilmore. Jump ahead nearly 20 years and my husband, Keith, and I were feeling it was time to further our education—I had been serving in Youth Ministry for 14 years and was ready for a change. My pastor and boss in Oklahoma is an Asbury alum and he encouraged us to come and visit. We assumed we would do our schooling online and stay in Oklahoma, but we quickly realized we wanted to move and live in Wilmore and experience all we could while in school. So, in January of 2013 we moved to Kentucky and have called her home ever since.
What were some of the best parts of your time at Asbury?
One of the greatest parts for us was the community we found through the seminary. Our neighbors in Kalas Village, our dear friends from classes and our church—living life with people and deeply getting to know them made seminary extremely rich for us. Our son was 5 when we moved here and having him grow up within community was wonderful. I would also say my professors, especially those through the Spiritual Formation classes, was one of my favorite parts. The way the professors took time to know me and pray with and for me and encourage me in my calling is a gift that cannot be measured. My final semester I got to sit at the feet of Drs. Reg Johnson, Steve Martyn, and Steve Seamands. I felt like I had the trifecta of head and heart teaching. Along with all of this, Chapel was incredibly formative for me—to be able to learn from such a wide variety and styles of people—to learn and worship through liturgy, Word and Table, to hear from scholars and lives changed by the power of the Holy Spirit—I will forever be thankful for all the Chapel services provided for me and my family.
What has your ministry been like after (or even before) your time at
Before coming to seminary I served the church through Youth Ministry for 14 years and it was amazing. I am so thankful for the experiences, the people, the grace, and the joy I received through those years. After graduating, I was invited to serve the Downtown Campus of First United Methodist Church of Lexington, KY as their Assistant Campus Pastor, focusing on discipleship. In the past 3 years I have gone to licensing school and become a Licensed Local Pastor and have been incredibly blessed to serve alongside some of the most amazing people. I look forward to going into work each day and love getting to know the people of First Church Downtown (and across all 3 campuses of First Church). I have been appointed to First Church since 2018 and look forward to all God has in store for me.
How has staying connected with Asbury assisted you in ministry?
We have stayed connected with so many people from our time at Asbury, and these connections and relationships continue to provide strength and grace for us as we continue to live into the call God has placed on our lives. I am thankful to get to return for Chapel services occasionally and I have begun taking classes again and am enjoying this, although finding it challenging working full time as well. I am thankful to serve on the Alumni Council and to get to know more about Asbury and more about people in ministry around our world. Asbury will be a place we find respite and strength for years to come.
Personal: Tell us anything you would like to share about your family,
My family and I still live in Wilmore and absolutely love it. My son, Will, is 12 years old and just completed his 6th grade year. My husband, Keith, graduated from ATS in 2018 and is an incredible support and gift to me through ministry. We love visiting family and friends and try to get to Oklahoma and Colorado as often as we can. We enjoy taking walks, playing games, reading good books, listening to music, and spending time with friends. One of my greatest joys and strengths comes from the 4 women I meet with weekly—my small group means the world to me and I cannot imagine life or ministry without them. Life is meant to be lived in community and I am beyond thankful for all those who make up mine.