Rev. Chuck Cox Returns to HPUMC after 50 Years

June 25, 2024 by Analise Narine

Rev. Chuck Cox, an Elder in the United Methodist Church and former minister at HPUMC, has been Methodist all his life. When Rev. Cox was six years old, his father—a Methodist pastor—passed away, and Chuck and his family moved to Monroe, Wisconsin, and continued to attend church regularly.

“Then I came to SMU in 1963, at age 18,” Rev. Cox said. “I came down here not so much because it was a Methodist university, but because I wanted to get out of that cold climate and try a new life. I loved it down here.”

Soon after he graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1967, Rev. Cox got married at HPUMC before joining the United States Marine Corps, where he served for three years. After returning to Dallas, he went to seminary at SMU, then started attending services and became an intern at HPUMC in 1974.

“I proceeded to get into 34 years of ministry, the first five of which were here at HPUMC, which I loved,” he said. “Now I'm back again, starting a year-and-a-half ago, in my retirement. I wanted to be in a church where I could receive a lot of spiritual food, and that's exactly what has happened. I am delighted to be back.”

Rev. Cox said he enjoyed starting his ministry at HPUMC because of the quality of the worship, the staff, and the learning opportunities. He began preaching in Cox Chapel during what was dubbed the “Jesus Revolution”—an evangelical, charismatic movement that started in California and spread across the country in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

“It was a powerful spiritual movement, and we saw that in our church,” Rev. Cox said. “It was really the university students who were the ones asking for a way to express their worship in that form. So we responded and said, ‘Yes, let's do it.’ Rev. Leighton Farrell was our pastor and he was agreeable to it, and we really had a great time leading the worship.”

People have different ways of connecting with God, and that way is just as valid as the traditional. And I think people feel like they can come to our church and feel welcome. Jesus breaks down all the barriers. Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender — all that stuff goes away when we experience God and experience Christ.” 

Rev. Chuck Cox

Revs. Cox and Smith started a Sunday evening service in 1975 that met in HPUMC’s Great Hall for a year before moving to Cox Chapel. They welcomed 75 to 100 people through the doors each Sunday. The service was charismatic in nature, as the catalyst for it was the Jesus Revolution, which brought young people together to worship freely.

“It rose at a time in our country when there was so much division regarding civil rights, the Vietnam War, women's liberation, and the gay rights movement,” Rev. Cox said. “People were looking for a source of unity and finding it in the Christian faith and in that form of worship. And so much new music was being written.”

While that specific type of service was eventually discontinued at HPUMC, Rev. Cox sees similarities in the contemporary Cornerstone service today—the style of music and the informal feel. Rev. Cox now attends traditional services but still holds respect for the contemporary.

“People have different ways of connecting with God, and that way is just as valid as the traditional,” he said. “And I think people feel like they can come to our church and feel welcome. Jesus breaks down all the barriers. Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender—all that stuff goes away when we experience God and experience Christ.”

After his first years at HPUMC, Rev. Cox served at four other churches in the North Texas Conference, including First United Methodist Church of Allen, where he was involved in the building of a new sanctuary, and Grace United Methodist Church, where he continued to worship and serve even after his retirement in 2008. Rev. Cox said he feels blessed that he got to preach for a living, including at HPUMC.

“For me, the most important thing was the love and joy that we had in that evening service and the sense of community that we found in our small groups,” he said. “I have so many great memories of that time. My wife, Marsha, also loved the service and was very involved in the leadership. She has passed away, but together, the two of us found a spiritual home there in the midst of the larger church.”

Now that he is back at HPUMC, Rev. Cox has preached a few times in Cox Chapel, where he gave his very first sermon nearly 50 years ago, and he appreciates that younger ministers are allowed to preach as well. He is also a member of the Discovery Sunday Morning Class and enjoys its featured speakers.

“I just told [Rev. Tripp Gulledge, MCLN Resident, Cox Chapel & The Feast], ‘If you need somebody, I'm here,’” he said. “I would like to see that service grow; I really like that service. I'm also open to teaching classes—I have done so and will continue to do so.”

When he’s not at HPUMC on a Sunday morning, you can often find Rev. Cox enjoying the empty roads on an early morning bike ride. He also enjoys playing tennis and watching sports. His son recently introduced him to YouTube TV, where he has been able to see worship experiences happening in America and around the world—like the revival that took place at Asbury University in 2023.

“There was one that was especially for people under the age of 25,” Rev. Cox said. “It was just awesome. And there are things happening that I don't even know about. When young people get excited about Jesus, it affects everybody in the older generations too. So I would love to see something like the Jesus Revolution happen again. The Holy Spirit works as the Holy Spirit chooses, and we are capable of responding. We'll see what God is up to next.”