The Measure of a man

When the Rev. Michael Coleman first applied for the position of pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Waterloo in 1993, the Rev. Gary S. Cook and others in charge of hiring him were impressed — even though Coleman, by Antioch standards, was quite young.

“He just seemed so intent on doing what we were getting him to do,” Cook said. “He wrote up a thing on what he would do as pastor and what he expected of the congregation, and it was very detailed — practically a timeline.”

Cook documented Coleman’s sermons for the next two years, just to make sure. By this April, when Antioch celebrated Coleman’s 25th year with them, Cook said the timeline was right on track.

“He was just so knowledgeable, for a young person,” Cook said. “As we got to know him, we realized that he was a man God had sent for a purpose.”



Coleman, who spent 25 years behind Antioch’s pulpit encouraging his followers to take notes and study the Bible for themselves, died Wednesday of complications from colon cancer. He was 59. Marcella Andrews, the church secretary, remembers being surprised at Coleman’s style when she began attending services 15 years ago. “When I came to Antioch, I was just used to listening,” she said. “But he always expressed about taking notes — get the points. And so if you ever came to Antioch and hear him preach, the first thing you see is people getting out their notepads.” It wasn’t that Coleman wanted followers to hang on his every word, either — Andrews said he wanted the opposite. “As a teacher, he would always say, ‘Look it up for yourself in the Bible; don’t just go by what I say,’” she said. “He wanted you to know, too — he didn’t just want you to take.”


Coleman started a men’s and women’s ministry, audio ministry and computer ministry. He also began foreign mission work, traveled to Kenya and started a monthly support donation to two orphanages there, Richard said.
“That was one of the things that was really strong in his heart, was for African-Americans to travel to Africa and do mission work,” Andrews said. His last mission was a few years ago, when he was first diagnosed with colon cancer.
Richard said she’ll remember Coleman’s leadership — he served on the Eastside Ministerial Alliance in Waterloo as well as a moderator for the National Baptist Iowa State Eastern District. “He was a really good example of what a pastor should be,”

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize,
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”