Rev. John Corcoran: Career in Ministry

by | Feb 15, 2019

I was born in Jamestown, New York on July 19, 1946.  Most of my years through high school were spent living in a house my Dad built on my grandparents dairy farm.  When not working on the farm, my interests were motorcycles and trains.  When I graduated from high school in June 1964 my plan was to enter military service.  However, I had to have back surgery during my senior year and as a result, could not pass the military physical exam.

Since I had to change my plans, I decided to attend college.  God was using what I thought to be a roadblock to redirect my path.  During my senior year in college, I began to date Naomi Cox, who was from Richmond, Virginia.  In May 1968 I graduated from Bryan College with a B.S. degree in Business Administration.

After graduation, Naomi and I continued to date and on November 29, 1968, we were married at Immanuel Baptist Church.  When we were newly married, we first lived in Arlington and worked in the Washington, DC area.  In June 1969 we moved to Richmond, so I could teach at Richmond Christian School.  From 1969 – 1977 we worked at various jobs and God blessed us with two sons.  Shawn was born on July 10, 1972, and Jason on April 21, 1977.

During this period of time, Naomi and I were active members at Immanuel Baptist Church.  Before I became a member I had the privilege of being baptized by Immanuel’s Senior Pastor, Dr. Stanley Toussaint.  Through my service in the church as an Elder and Sunday School teacher, God was directing me toward full-time Christian ministry.  Dr. Toussaint, and then Pastor Albert Fesmire, were my mentors as I sought God’s will for my life.

On January 29, 1978 (Naomi’s birthday), I preached at Bethel Bible Church in Argyle, Iowa as a pastoral candidate.  One week later the church called me to be their pastor.  On March 15 I was Ordained to the Gospel Ministry by Immanuel Baptist Church.  In April 1978 our family moved to Iowa and began our ministry at Bethel Bible Church.

During my years at Bethel, I began to sense the need for additional theological education.  This was in the time before seminaries had distance learning programs, so the Lord directed me to move my family from Iowa to Lynchburg, Virginia.  We lived in Lynchburg from 1980 to 1986, where I worked full-time and attended Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.  I graduated with an M.A. degree in Religion in May 1985.  We continued to live in Lynchburg while praying about God’s plan for our family.

In October 1985 I had the opportunity to enlist in the Virginia State Guard.  Since I was a seminary graduate and ordained, I was commissioned at the rank of Captain and served as a Chaplain.  During this time I also began to meet with a group of believers in Chesterfield, Virginia, who were interested in planting a church.  In July 1986 we moved our family to Chesterfield so we could continue to develop the church.  Eventually, we did plant Cornerstone Baptist Church.

Eventually, I resigned from Cornerstone.  I continued to serve as a military chaplain and minister at Immanuel Baptist Church as an Elder and Sunday School Teacher.  In 1994-95 I had a weekly Bible Study program on two local radio stations.

In October 1995 I attended a Good News Jail & Prison Ministry Banquet for the ministry at the Chesterfield County Jail.  Clyde Abell was the Chaplain at the jail and also a relative through Naomi’s family.  During the banquet program, it was mentioned that Good News was moving its headquarters from Arlington to Richmond and was in need of administrative staff.  I applied for the Controller position and was hired, beginning work on January 2, 1996.

In 1996 our son Shawn married Gaby Kaye and eventually, they were blessed with four children, TJ, Samuel, Zachery, and Eileen.  In 1997, while still working for Good News, I served as an interim pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church in Powhatan and then Rural Point Baptist Church in Mechanicsville.  Jason, our youngest son, graduated from VCU Pharmacy School and moved out of Richmond to work at hospitals in Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia.

During my time as Controller, I became very interested in the ministry of our Chaplains.  Because I had a seminary degree and previously served as a pastor, I met the qualifications to serve as a Chaplain.  After working in the Controller’s position for seven years, I applied to be the Chaplain at the Chesterfield County Jail.  I began my service at the jail on March 1, 2003.  During this time, Naomi was working as the Senior Pastor’s Administrative Assistant at Immanuel Baptist Church.  She retired in 2016 after 17 years of service to the church.

It was a blessing to minister in the jail with the staff and inmates.  During my almost sixteen years in the jail, I served under three different Sheriffs.  I had the privilege of leading many inmates to faith in Christ, teaching Bible classes and conducting counseling sessions with inmates and staff.  There were also additional opportunities to conduct funeral services for members of the Sheriff’s staff and perform a wedding ceremony for two of the deputies.  This was God’s work and He is to receive the praise for what was accomplished.  My family, churches like Immanuel and many individuals supported the work with their prayers and finances.  As God’s servant in the jail, I was motivated by the admonition in Hebrews 13:3 to “remember the prisoners as if chained with them….”

Join us this Sunday evening at 5pm for Rev. John Corcoran’s Retirement Report, Offering, and Reception