Who is John Cooper?

Who is John Cooper?

John grew up in a large Catholic farm family in central Eastern Illinois, about 15 miles West of Terre Haute, Indiana, between two small towns, Marshall, IL, and Paris, IL.

His boyhood days were spent working with his Father and Uncles, who both owned farmland, and walking in the woods, seeing the beauty of nature, and living close to it.  He grew up poor, but had plenty of food to eat.  He attended school in the Marshall, Illinois school system, graduating in 1967.

John used to love to fight, winning all but one fight he was in, when the whole Marshall, IL basketball team got hold of him at once, slamming his head into the gym floor because John had beaten up one of the tallest and biggest basketball players.  He was also avid reader, (his brother, David referred to him as a “bookworm”), perhaps he read so much because his family could not afford a TV until after he left home.  There was no indoor plumbing or running water in the Cooper home either, until John left home.  He excelled in school and decided to attend Samford University, in Birmingham, AL, largely because his uncle by marriage, Dr. Everett Lemeron, taught accounting and business there.  His plans were to be a psychologist, getting his Doctorate at the University of Alabama, and perhaps working at the VA hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL, which was and is a VA mental health facility.

Things did not quite work out that way however…..  In the last two years of High School, John entered the beginnings of a conversion experience that brought him to crisis of conscious regarding what he had been taught form childhood regarding many facets of religion and faith.  He had been fully supportive of his nation’s war ethics before this crisis of conscience began to occur.

John attended Samford University in 1967 and 1968, while living with his aunt and uncle, working part time, and paying for his own education with funds he had saved working on the farm in Illinois for his uncles. His uncles, and the whole McCulley family, proclaimed that one should not work in the fields on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, even though the many animals they owned had to be taken care of…  In the final year of high school, he came to knowledge that Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is actually the Sabbath, and has been, from creation….  Having been raised with a high regard for the 10 Commandments as being normative for Christians, upon this discovery, he began to have a crisis of conscience regarding this matter…  In beginning his studies of the Christian Bible, John began to see other ethical problems with the systems (Kosmos) of the world, and the teachings of Jesus, one of which regarded the ethics of warfare which seemed to him diametrical opposite the teachings of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, whom John understands to be the exact representation of God, the essence of his being…

Therefore, John began to observe the Sabbath on Saturday, and other Old Covenant Feast Days, and often spoke of the personal conflict he had with warfare, during this period of the Vietnam war.  He was kicked out of his aunt’s home for observing the Sabbath, (on Saturday) and had to find a place to live and pay for on his own.  He could not afford to continue his education at Samford University and choose to take action upon the new beliefs he had come to understand.  He became a member of the a Sabbitarian church with historic peace church roots at that time, and began attending church in Birmingham, AL.  Also, during this time he was convicted to apply for conscientious objector status, and received paperwork from his draft board to approve his request.  He served two years of alternative service in Birmingham, AL, beginning at Spain Rehabilitation Center, caring for people who had been paralyzed.  While there, he moved into the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Cabinet Shop, and found he was gifted in and enjoyed woodworking.  He decided to enter a carrier in this field and in Ca. 1977. After moving to Tuscaloosa, AL he established Cooper Cabinet Shop, where he still works today.  In addition, he established Cooper Wood Specialties, which currently imports cabinetry from China.  Business links for the companies he has help found are: http://www.cooperwoodspecialties.net/; http://www.coopercabinets.com/; http://www.tuscaloosacabinetgroup.com/.

John met Wynema Walters at a church picnic, and after a period, they were married in 1973.  John and Wink have no children, although both have numerous nieces and nephews.  John was an avid tennis player until he was 42, then he took up golf and has played that game ever since.  He would rather be a sports participant than and observer….

John remained in the same church fellowship, now renamed Grace Communion, International, http://www.gci.org/ He served in many offices such as deacon, (his wife, Wink, was also an ordained deaconess), Elder, and Co-pastor….  When this church as a group began to understand the New Covenant around 1994.  John just could not understand how the 10 commandments could be abolished and the New Covenant could be a replacement for, not an addition to, the Old Covenant, at first, and studied and prayed late into the night until he too finally, after about six months, he began to understand these matters…  John still respects individual’s choice to observe days, times, and food laws if that is their understanding…

John now attends Grace Church in Tuscaloosa, (http://www.gracenews.org/index.php) where the thought of something like Circles of Peace has brewed in his mind for several years.  Having met resistance in the community to his ideas regarding Peace and Nonviolence, he put those thoughts on the shelf for a while as he became active in other venues such as assisting the International student community in Tuscaloosa…. He also helped in the formation of Compassion Coalition, with others in the community, an organization to organize faith based groups across religious divides to assist in disaster relief.  He served on the board, and as Executive Director for over two years, and is still serving on the board and the Executive Council of this organization.  Circles of Peace FOR, (http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/) is an officially recognized Affiliate of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest active Peace, Non-violent, and Social Justice organization still active in these areas in the world.  (http://forusa.org/)

John now feels strongly his calling is to serve in the area of Peace, Social Justice, and Nonviolence, helping to return the Christian community to its historic peaceful roots, and to develop common ground across religious divides of all types to bring peaceful cooperation to our community, the nation, and the world.

He has been planting the seeds of peace, social justice, and nonviolence for many years, struggling against resistance, but hoping to garner the vision of a younger generation to help bring peace, mutual love and respect, to other people and religious groups in this world, before we destroy ourselves with hate, and it is too late…