A traveling evangelist who established roots in Buford 30 years ago has left a lasting legacy in the church congregation he served.
The late Bishop Timothy Copeland was pastor of the First Pentecostal Church of Buford for 26 years before an illness forced him to retire. Copeland died Saturday, May 13, at the age of 69, with frontotemporal dementia.
Copeland was born in Vidor, Texas. Upon graduating from high school, he began traveling as an evangelist. Ten years later he met Kathy Flanders and they were married June 19, 1982. Together, they traveled as evangelists for more than 11 years before Copeland was called to the small church in Buford. He became pastor at the First Pentecostal Church in November 1993.
“There was a small body of believers who had been left without a pastor,” Mrs. Copeland said. “An older minister friend of ours asked if we would please pray about coming to meet them and preach for them. Tim told him he was just not interested, but finally relented and came and preached for the little church.
“We both fell in love with this little group of Christians,” Mrs. Copeland continued, “and they loved us back, so that’s how it all started.”
Copeland would serve as pastor for the downtown Buford church until his illness forced him to retire. His son, Jordan Copeland, now serves as pastor.
“(My father) gave his life to the city of Buford, and there’s nowhere else I’d want to be,” Jordan said. “He had multiple opportunities to go elsewhere, but this city is where God called him.”
“He was a father figure to many, a teacher, a counselor, and a friend,” Mrs. Copeland said. “He was a great speaker/preacher in his own right, but his actions spoke even louder than his words.”
Mrs. Copeland said her husband was happiest helping others.
“(He) spent many days each week visiting the homebound, taking groceries to those in need, sitting with the sick at the hospital, and performing countless services for others,” she said. “It was a rare day when he didn’t leave the house with cash in his wallet and return with it empty, because he just loved to give to people in need.”
“Bishop Copeland’s legacy is that he was a lover of people,” said Bill Kennedy, a member of the First Pentecostal Church. “He would give his last dollar to someone in need. I have witnessed him empty his wallet on these type occasions.”
Mrs. Copeland believes her husband’s lasting legacy will be the church congregation he served for more than two-and-a-half decades.
“The people in this congregation have followed my husband’s example,” she said, “and we now have hundreds of generous and compassionate people willing to help those around them.”
Copeland’s son, Jordan, echoed his mother’s sentiments.
“He prayed daily for the citizens of Buford, whether they were part of our church or not,” Jordan said. “Because of his faith, there is a beautiful, thriving church in the center of downtown.”