Here is a wrap up of deaths of notable Baptists reported this year by Baptist News Global.
Donna Forrester, the first ordained woman to serve as moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, died Dec. 31, 2015, more than 14 years after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Forrester, 66, served as minister of pastoral care and counseling at First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., from 1989 until disability retirement in 2006. She presided over the 2001 CBF General Assembly in Atlanta.
Bill Self, a longtime Atlanta-area pastor and prominent Baptist leader for decades, died Jan. 9 after a long struggle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He would have turned 84 on Jan. 10. Self was pastor emeritus of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga., where he served as senior pastor from 1991 to 2012. He had been pastor of Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta from 1964 to 1990. He held numerous leadership positions in the Southern Baptist Convention before becoming active in formation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in 1990.
Buckner Fanning, who retired in 2002 after 42 years as pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas, died Feb. 14 at age 89. Fanning, long respected as pastor to the entire city because of a series of popular 30-second inspirational television spots and leadership in ecumenical affairs, suffered a major stroke in August.
Baptist professor James W. Cox, recognized as a leading authority on preaching and one of the most influential teachers in the field of homiletics, died Feb. 21 in Louisville, Ky. He was 93. Cox, author and editor of dozens of books including his annual The Minister’s Manual used by ministers across denominations to plan their worship services and sermons, taught for more than four decades at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Cyndi Crawford, wife of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond President Ron Crawford, died March 21 at the family home in Hanover County, Va. The Cyndi Ray Crawford Scholarship Fund for Women was founded by her husband and children in her memory.
Robert E. Braxton III, 27, died April 24 in a shooting during a Sunday morning worship service inside the Keystone Fellowship Church campus in Montgomeryville, Pa. Mark Storms, 46, of Landsdale, Pa., was charged with voluntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in an altercation that reportedly began as an argument over a reserved pew.
Joe Crumpler, widower of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship founder Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler, died June 10 at age 89. The retired 30-year pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Cincinnati was a president of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference and trustee of the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) before helping to found the North Central affiliate of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and serve at its moderator.
Harwood Cochrane, a Virginian whose fortune from a trucking empire supported numerous Baptist causes as well as the arts, died July 26 at 103. Cochrane and his late wife, Louise, were well-known benefactors of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and the Virginia Opera. The long-time members of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond also strongly supported Baptist institutions, including Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.
Desmond Hoffmeister, 56, senior pastor at Granada Hills Baptist Church in Granada Hills, Calif., died Aug. 20. An American Baptist pastor and denominational leader, he early in his ministry advocated for justice and reconciliation in his native South Africa in the waning years of apartheid. He served five years as executive minister for American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains before assuming the pulpit at Granada Hills in 2010.
Howard E. Butt Jr., one-time heir apparent to run the 380-store H‑E‑B grocery chain before turning lay evangelist during the “youth revival movement” that spread from Baylor University to campuses across the country in the 1940s and 1950s, died Sept. 22. Butt, 89, the oldest son of the grocery chain’s namesake founder Howard E. Butt Sr., died at his home in San Antonio, Texas, due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.
A 28-month search for Lynn Messer, wife of Missouri Baptist lobbyist Kerry Messer, ended Nov. 1 with the discovery of skeletal remains on the edge of the family’s 250-acre farm. Messer, 52, disappeared mysteriously during the night of July 8, 2014, after making crafts in preparation for the second day of Vacation Bible School. A family member found her remains while scouting a spot for deer hunting. Kerry Messer said on Facebook Dec. 24 the family is still waiting for results from pathology and forensic labs research trying to determine the cause of death.