Dr. Gary Cockerill: Celebrating 35 Years at WBS


Reflections upon Retirement

Gareth Lee Cockerill taught his first course at Wesley Biblical Seminary in the fall of 1979, joining the faculty of the fledgling seminary while he was on home assignment for his missionary work with the Wesleyan Church. Back on the mission field in 1981 for another three-year term, he returned to WBS to teach, research, and serve as Academic Dean and, most recently, Vice President of Academic Affairs. During his 35 years at WBS, Dr. Cockerill has taught his three daughters, both of his sons-in-law, and his wife. To celebrate his ministry at WBS, his daughters reflect on his legacy.

Kate O’Donnell: WBS alumna now living and working overseas with her family

“Newly married with some time on our hands before heading overseas, my husband and I found ourselves in one of my dad’s evening classes. What I found most interesting was my dad’s consistency. He was intense in his love for scripture and his desire for truth in the classroom just as he had taught us to be around my family’s breakfast table. But he was also always up for a laugh even when our class sabotaged his PowerPoints with clip art of pizzas flying into every slide. He was just as encouraging preparing our class for finals as he had been teaching me to ride a bike. I realized that my dad’s academic accomplishments weren’t a separate part of him, but instead flowed out of who he is—fun, driven, and loving.”

Ginny Cockerill: works in higher education in Alabama

“While I took Hebrew and the Gospel of John as a non-degree student at WBS, some of my favorite memories of WBS and my Dad are the times we spent talking about his courses and the ways he had changed them over time. He was always ready to try something new, whether it was a piece of technology, illustrations from pop-culture, or a pedagogical technique. And while the classroom focus was on connecting with the content, he never lost sight of the ultimate goal of personal spiritual growth for himself and everyone around him. His ongoing desire to be a better husband, father, teacher, scholar, and Christian inspires me every day.”

Allene Vinzant: married to alumnus and current assistant professor, Carey Vinzant

“I realized early in my career as a high school teacher that my approach to teaching was shaped by my father’s example. While he was always willing to help us with our schoolwork, he never answered a question directly; instead, he met our questions with a question of his own designed to help us figure out the answer for ourselves. He taught us how to learn. When I signed up for his Fundamentals of Greek class, I experienced the classroom version of this. (Of course, I ended up sitting next to a handsome young seminarian whose presence proved to be a bit distracting!) As a foreign language teacher I still use pedagogical tools from his toolbox. (And despite the distractions, I did get an “A.”)”

Order the book of essays on Hebrews compiled in Dr. Cockerill’s honor, Listen, Understand, Obey, here on Amazon or here from the publisher.

Click here to read the 2017 Compass online and to delve deeper into the questions: Why Seminary? Why Wesley?

Click here to give a gift to the WBS Scholarship Fund in honor of Dr. Cockerill and his legacy.

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MDiv programs

The MDiv degree can be taken in one of four programs:

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