By Cecil Willis
As some of you already know, some health problems that I have encountered have made it necessary for me to change the nature of my work for several months. I have cancelled all my meetings since July, 1975 through December, 1976. So … during this time, I am working on a biography of Roy E. Cogdill. Some know of these efforts, but many do not. The purpose of this article is to inform you of these efforts and to ask your assistance.
Brother Cogdill never kept much in the way of records of where he preached and the number of responses, beyond the period that such records might be useful in dealing with “Uncle Sam” on his Internal Revenue Program. I suppose he felt like most of us do: we will leave the record keeping to the Lord, for after all He alone knows who was added and who sincerely repented, etc.
There was another incident that deterred Brother Cogdill from sending many news reports regarding his work to the papers. When he was just a young preacher, he was introduced to some sister who commented, “Oh yes, I have seen your advertisements in the Firm Foundation.” Upon reflection, Brother Cogdill decided that some of those news reports do appear almost to be advertisements, so he very, very seldom sent in one thereafter. This may have made it easier for him to live with his conscience, but it makes it infinitely more difficult to reconstruct a year by year story of his life. This is why I am making this appeal to you, and am asking that you pass along the word and have any who may be of some help to me to write me.
You might possess some photograph that would appear nicely in a book, or you might know of some interesting incident that might enliven a book. Perhaps some humorous incident may have occurred during a gospel meeting or a debate that you may think should be related. Perhaps in travel with Brother Cogdill somewhere, some discussion may have occurred that you deem to be important enough to merit some mention. Surely there must be hundreds of persons who have correspondence files that may contain some information that is germane biographically.
At first, I had thought that I would try to make this book a history of the institutional controversy. Necessarily it must contain considerable material relating to this issue, because Brother Cogdill has been in the very center of the fight since it began. But I have decided that it would make too long a book if I tried to write anything like a complete history of the institutional issue. I will deal only with Brother Cogdill’s part in that controversy.
Along with a biography, I would like to compile a compendium of all he has written, including even bulletin articles. But 1 know that this file cannot be made complete, for even Brother Cogdill did not retain copies of all his bulletins. I have all of the easy-to-get material, such as all the Gospel Guardians, Bible Banners, Gospel Advocates from 1910 to the present, and about the last twenty-five years of the Farm Foundation. But there could be articles in many church bulletins that were never published elsewhere.
If you have any materials that you think would be helpful to me, I would appreciate having you to send me a photocopy of any article, or send any photograph that you may possess. Write your name and address on the back of the picture and the words “Please Return.” All of this material is being kept in a fire-proof filing cabinet, and will be handled as carefully as I know how and some who have sent me manuscripts may not be particularly impressed with my careful handling. However, in my own defense, let me state that I do not think any manuscript has been sent to me that has not been located within three to five years after it was sent. But I promise to handle whatever you send as carefully as possible.
So . . . all of you out there . . . who might be able to lend me some assistance, let me hear from you pronto.
Truth Magazine, XX:14, p. 2
April 1, 1976