“Dr. Gary Cockerill is a passionate and dedicated servant scholar who has given his life to international ministry and to the training and mentoring of pastors, missionaries, and scholars.”
Godly. Dedicated. Passionate. Servant. These are common words friends of Dr. Gary Cockerill would use to describe his life and ministry. Dr. Cockerill retired last spring from Wesley Biblical Seminary (WBS) after serving as a professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology for 35 years. Dr. Cockerill also served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for 8 years during his time at WBS.
As a part of WBS, Dr. Cockerill impacted many students who enjoyed his teaching, mentoring, and leadership. “As a gifted academic he (Gary) approached teaching with a very practical mindset.” Pastor Don Bray (friend of Gary) shares, “He sought to develop the learning skills of students so they could carry them into the future and continue to strengthen their ministry impact.”
Before coming to WBS, Gary and his wife Rosa served for a number of years as missionaries with Global Partners in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Dr. Cockerill was the Mission Director of the work in Sierra Leone and effectively worked to lift the work of the church in the whole region during his time there. Kerry Kind, a friend of Gary who worked with him in Africa, reflects, “Gary’s calling has always been to empower others to do the work of the Gospel whether it was in Africa as a missionary or at WBS as a teacher. He has a great vision for ministry. He is not just an academic; he has proved himself as a practitioner of ministry.”
Dr. Cockerill is known to have a consistent relationship with Jesus and to have kept a passion for international ministry throughout his life. His cross-cultural experiences have allowed him to be effective at sharing the Gospel in diversity. “Gary has a real passion for intercultural and international ministries,” Kerry Kind shares, “It was shown in his own mission work and in the way he served as a seminary professor. He has always taken a special interest in mentoring international students from various countries around the world.”
Beyond his career in vocational ministry, Dr. Cockerill is known for his theological works and most specifically his volume on Hebrews in the New International Commentary on the New Testament, which is one of the most highly regarded commentaries on the book. In 2004, he was honored by Southern Wesleyan University as Alumnus of the Year. He was also actively involved in efforts with Oklahoma Wesleyan University to begin offering a WBS Master of Divinity degree at their Tulsa site.
Dr. Cockerill’s story would not be complete without mentioning his wife, Rosa, who has been his lifelong partner in ministry. The couple is known for using their home as a means to build mentoring relationships and launch others in ministry. Gary and Rosa have raised three children who love the Lord and continue the legacy of ministry in their own Christian-oriented families.