Nazarenes’ pastor retires after 12 years|Religion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 2, 2010

For 18 years, Kuhrman Cox has spent his time lifting people up through his words, but now he says it’s time to lighten his load.

Cox, pastor of First Church of the Nazarene, announced his retirement from full-time ministry a year ago, but preached his last sermon this past Sunday — on his 68th birthday. Activities to celebrate Cox’s retirement are set for this Sunday.

 “I’m not retiring from the pastorate, I’m just lightening my load”, said the soft-spoken pastor.

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Cox has been the longest-serving pastor of the 69-year-old church, which has seen three homes  — at Main and Adams streets, at U.S. 61 North and at its current location on Wisconsin Avenue.

“I’m a people person,” he said. “I find this to be a people church, and I wanted to be involved to touch the lives of people.”

An Indiana native, Cox and his family moved to Vicksburg in 1991 to lead the Nazarene church after serving 12 years as pastor of a church in Carthage, Tenn.

“The church brought me here,” Cox said. “I felt my work at Carthage was done, and I sent my resume out. I came, interviewed and preached … and they decided to keep me.”

Basil Arthur, a church trustee and member for 30 years, said, “I hate to see him retire, but it’s a matter of him wanting to retire. He was very hands-on with the congregation — and always has been.”

Cox is credited with expanding the Hispanic membership four years ago, when he invited a few Hispanics who were working at LeTourneau Technologies to church. Cox had been serving as chaplain at LeTourneau.

“I’m really proud of the fact that the Hispanic congregation has grown,” Arthur said. “We’ve always been open to diversity.”

Today, about half the 120-member congregation is Hispanic.

Also, Cox is credited with helping install the computer program Microsoft Access to track the progress of Ministerial Study Program students and the fluctuating church membership.

“He’s amazing,” said Roger Fillebaum, a church trustee and member for 40 years. “We were very impressed, and he lived up to our expectations.”

Cox knew at a young age he wanted to help others.

“At the age of 10, one day, I was going home from church,” he began. “My mother had sent us out the door. She said, ‘Boys, you hurry home as quick as that service is over. It’s getting ready to storm.’ As I turned the corner, I see the minister huddled over putting a lock on the door and in my heart, I cried out, ‘You wait ’til I’m big enough and I’ll keep your door open.’ Well, at the age of 15, the Lord reminded me of that. He told me he wanted to use me as a minister. My twin brother was going through the same thing. So we went to our pastor.”

He and his brother, Norman, graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville in 1966. Cox continued to Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., where he was ordained in 1970. During his time there, he was co-pastor with his brother at the St. Joseph Southside Church of the Nazarene.

His first church after ordination was in Rockwood, Tenn., where he spent the next nine years of his life. He then moved on to a church in Carthage before landing in Vicksburg, where he knew he would spend the rest of his career.

After retirement, Cox said he will continue to serve in the ministry part time.

“The first thing I want to do is visit other pastoral men I have trained,” he said. He will also continue his chaplain work at LeTourneau and Anderson-Tully Co.

“I visit with employees, speak with them and just become their friend,” he said. “When they have a need, they make me aware of it. It keeps me involved in ministry.”

Also, he might return to school. “I want to work more on understanding the computer.”

He also wants to spend time with his family, especially his 7-year-old granddaughter, Paige.

Cox and his wife, Royece, have two children, Andrew, who is an Air Force captain in California, and Cynthia Talbott, who is a contractor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg and is Paige’s mother. Royece Cox is the head librarian for Vicksburg High School.

The church board of stewards is interviewing candidates for pastor, but no names have been announced.

“Nobody will fill his shoes,” Fillebaum said. “But the new one will have his own shoes.”

Contact Manivanh Chanprasith at