Skip to main content

Collection 414 Papers of Wade T. Coggins

Identifier: CN 414

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews, papers and speech manuscripts relating to the ministry of Wade T. Coggins, Christian worker with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Evangelical Foreign Mission Association.


  • Created: 1964-1990

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Wade Thomas Coggins was born in 1924 near High Point, North Carolina. At the time his father was a farmer, but when he was eleven, the family (including, besides his mother, his older brother John Cicero and his younger sister Nanny Lee) moved to High Point, where his father had a steady job throughout the Great Depression. That same year Wade stepped forward and was born again while attending an evangelistic meeting with his brother, who was converted at the same time. The family attended a nearby Methodist church, but were often uncomfortable with what seemed to them the watered down Christianity preached from its pulpit. Wade began on his own to attend as well the evening services and other programs of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) tabernacle in town. Already as a boy he felt a commitment to go into full-time Christian work as a minister.

After graduating from high school in 1941, he attended the local Methodist school, High Point College, for a year as a pre-ministerial student. But he was dissatisfied with what seemed like a lack of spiritual commitment among the faculty and student body and on the advice of a friend applied to and was accepted at the CMA's Nyack Missionary College in Nyack, New York. He travelled north for the first time in the fall of 1942 (accompanied by his brother and a friend) to take up his studies there.

While at Nyack he met fellow student Jane Wells and the two became engaged. They both applied to the Alliance to become missionaries. They were married immediately following their graduation in 1945 in Jane's hometown of Albany, New York. Immediately afterwards they set off by car to Des Moines, Iowa. There, as was customary in the CMA, they were to acquire experience meeting the needs of a church before being sent overseas. Wade was pastor to a small rural congregation on the outskirts of town from 1945 until 1947. He was ordained in the latter year by a group including such prominent CMA ministers as A. W. Tozer and R. R. Brown. The CMA had by this time appointed them to be missionaries in Colombia. In February 1948, the Coggins flew from Miami, Florida to Medellin, Colombia.

At first they lived in Medellin and studied the Spanish language. However, very soon after arriving they were assigned to assist in the development of churches, first in Nieva and then in Popayan. Wade would work with the local Colombian CMA pastor while in the town and would travel to the more remote rural and mountain location to preach to and meet with the small Protestant congregations. He worked with a number of diverse ethic and social groups, including the Paez Indians. In 1951 the Coggins were transferred to the town of Armenia. Wade and Jane taught there at the Bethel Bible Institute. which was training leadership for the country's CMA churches. During a visit with a Colombian pastor to the town of Argelia in his old district, Coggins was severely attacked and almost killed by a mob in the town, probably because he was a Protestant minister. He returned to Armenia to recuperate. The next year, after their son Robert had been born, the Coggins family returned to the United States on furlough and traveled among CMA churches in western Pennsylvania. After a brief time spent back in Colombia in 1954-55, Jane's ill health caused the family to return permanently to the United States.

Nyack Missionary College was now an accredited institution and Wade returned there briefly to earn enough credits to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in 1955. (In 1965, he received his Master's degree from the University of Maryland and in 1973 an honorary doctorate from the renamed Nyack College.) The Coggins then moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where Wade was pastor of a church. He had briefly met Evangelical missionary leader Clyde Taylor in Colombia. Taylor contacted him in 1958 to ask him to assist him on the staff of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (later renamed the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies or EFMA for short), of which Taylor was executive director. Wade agreed and the same year the Coggins moved to the Washington, D. C. area, where EFMA was based.

Coggins remained with EFMA for the next three decades, first as Taylor's assistant and then as executive director himself when Taylor retired in 1975. The Association was a service agency for American Evangelical Protestant (largely denominational) mission agencies. Fifty agencies, with 4885 missionaries, belong to the EFMA in 1958. The Association had one hundred and one members, representing over thirteen thousand missionaries by the time he retired in 1990. The staff helped expedite visas for missionaries, lobbied among government agencies and Congress, published periodicals and books, and, perhaps most importantly, held congresses and workshops for mission leaders. At these meetings, current problems and developments would be discussed, as well as future possibilities. The Interdemoniational Foreign Mission Association (IFMA) had an almost identical purpose among Fundamentalist and Evangelical missions. Coggins was instrumental in working with the IFMA's executive director, Jack Frizen, to create an extremely close working relationship between the two groups. During his time on staff, the EFMA was instrumental in introducing to the missions community such ideas as the church growth theories of Donald Mc Gavran and theological education by extension (TEE). Coggins also participated in several major international meetings, including the 1966 Congress on the Church's World Wide Mission, the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism, the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization, and the 1980 Consultation on World Evangelization.

The EFMA, in cooperation with IFMA, launched The Evangelical Missions Quarterly in 1964 and Coggins served on its editorial board. He also wrote So That's What Missions is All About for Moody Press (1975) and was co-editor of the proceedings of a number of missions conferences, including Christ and Caesar in Christian Missions (1977) and Reaching Our Generation (1982).

In addition to his EFMA duties, he served on the board of the North American office of the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF). He served as interim general director for the Fellowship from 1981-1982.

Coggins retired from the EFMA in 1990 and was followed by Rev. Paul Mc Kaughan. However, he continued to work with EFMA, WEF and other agencies as a consultant. He died in 2013.


0.20 Cubic Feet

1 Box (DC), Audio Tapes

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Arrangement t section, the notation "folder 2-5" means "box 2, Folder 5"]

Series: Audio Tapes

Six oral history interviews with Wade T. Coggins in which he describes his childhood in North Carolina, conversion, education, marriage, work in Colombia 1948-1955 with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, his activities as staff member, and role as executive director of the Evangelical Foreign Mission Association, and his reflections on current trends in missions. The time period covered by the interviews is 1929 to 1990.

Wade T. Coggins was interviewed by Robert Shuster on April 15, June 5 & 13 1989 and January 11, May 3, and July 19, 1990.

Series: Paper Records (Box List)

Papers, generated while Coggins worked on the staff if EFMA, deal with a variety of issues of concern to American mission agencies, such as financial support, training, church growth, unreached peoples, etc.

Folder 1-1 Religious situation in Latin America in 1963, impact of visiting non-Western pastor and evangelists on United States churches, church growth, the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism, religious attitudes toward political revolution, the 1967 National Conference of the Catholic Inter-American Cooperation Program (CICOP) and changes in the Roman Catholic church in Latin America, and the career of Clyde Taylor.

Folder 1-2 Tax laws related to giving to missions, missionary cost of living compensation, unreached peoples mission financing, TEE, future trends in missions, EFMA activities, the Evangelical view of change, preparation for missionary work.

Folder 1-3 Cost of missions, the call for a mission moratorium, a 1976 survey of missions around the world, description of the 1952 attack on him in Colombia, spiritual freedom, the World Evangelical Fellowship, the call to be a missionary, the local church and mission, the future of the Evangelical movement.

Folder 1-4 Retirement of Horace Fenton from the Latin American Mission; the administrator's dilemma in facing development needs; American Leprosy Missions' relations with churches, governments, supporters; cost of missions, role of church and school in the missionary call; accountability and evaluation of missions; furloughs, vacations and continuing education; financing denominational missions; training missionaries; education of missionary children; determining maturity and mental health in a missionary; pastoral care for the missionary; non-Western mission agencies; unreached peoples; priorities for the 1980s.

Folder 1-5 The 1980 Consultation on World Evangelization, future of missions, ways of reaching unreached peoples, financing missions, review of David Barrett's Encyclopedia of World Christianity, survey of missionary salaries, frontier missions, cost of North American missionaries.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Wade Coggins in 1989 and 1990.

Accession 89-36, 89-48, 89-58, 89-60, 90-6, 90-48, 90-79

November 28, 1994

Robert Shuster

S. Gertz

Collection 414 Papers of Wade T. Coggins
Bob Shuster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US