Rev. Raymond Cochran Sr. marks 50th anniversary as pastor
By Toni Stauffer
In 1968, the Reverend Raymond Cochran Sr. became pastor of Phenix City’s Franchise Missionary Church, the longest tenure of any other pastor in the area. In celebration of his 50th anniversary, a Golden Jubilee began with a series of monthly special worship celebrations. The first event, “Missionaries Celebrating” was held March 11, followed by “Community Male Choir Celebrating” on April 8.
Rev. Cochran, 82, was born in Salem, Ala., (Lee County) on Dec. 13, 1935, on a farm. He has been married to his beloved wife Mary for 64 years. They have six daughters, two sons (the eldest deceased), numerous grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. His philosophy on life is all about doing what is right.
“If you do good, good will come back to you,” Cochran said. “I can’t make it no plainer than that. There’s two roads in life. One is rough without Jesus, but with Jesus…smooth. You can take the road you want.
“It doesn’t matter what color you are. I was raised in Salem on a farm, but I took another road in life and my life has been sweet.”
He added, “I haven’t done everything to satisfy other folks, but I have satisfied my Christ. You can’t live your life like everybody tells you and get anywhere. And whatever you put in is what you get out. It pays dividends to do right. God made you rational. Everyone has a brain to think for themselves.”
Coincidentally, the interview with Rev. Cochran was held on April 4, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1965, when the famous Civil Rights march happened in Selma, Rev. Cochran was attending Selma University.
“They let us out of school to see what was going on,” Cochran said. “Martin Luther King changed the whole area. You can’t go in a town where there’s not a Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway somewhere–from California all the way to Florida. That was a movement of God. But I wasn’t in it, I was at it. I was born in the country. I didn’t think nonviolence was the way. I thought we had to be tough to get what we wanted, but God let me live to see that Dr. Martin Luther King was right.”
Rev. Cochran was a preacher for more than 10 years before stopping in Phenix City on his way to Florida and deciding to stay. He preached many places in Alabama before settling in Phenix City: Roanoke, Lineville, Poplar Springs, Lafayette, Salem, and Camp Hill; in Georgia, he preached in LaGrange. He has been a great steward of Franchise Missionary Baptist Church, overseeing the construction of the new church at 1000 Dillingham St., across the parking lot from the original church now called the S.A. Harvey Building at 931 10th Ave. He still hopes to finish building plans started 20 years ago. The Dillingham building has been paid for, and while there is some repair work to be done to the original church, new construction is still needed.
“I want to see a Family Life Center built before I leave,” he said. “These buildings need to come together. That was supposed to have been built when we built this building (the new church). Financially, the people thought it was too much, but it wasn’t because God said to build it all together.” Plans for the Family Life Center include a gym, a pool, and a game room—a place to bring the families together. His advice for young people is to “do more listening than you do talking…and do something constructive in the world.” He also advises them to read Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, a book he re-reads every chance he gets.
Rev. Cochran has no plans to retire at the moment. “I won’t have nothing else to do if I retire,” he said.
Continuing, he said, “I have studied a lot and I want somebody to learn what I have acquired. God has given me a lot and I want to impart it (to) somebody.”
He added, laughing. “If I have to retire now, I’m not going to stay home. I love Mary, but I’m not going to become a furniture mover: ‘Honey, move this, move that.”