During Pastor Bruce Cochran’s tenure at First Baptist Church in Seymour, the motto “A home for your faith” was developed.
The 60-year-old recently retired after 22 years at the church, and he hopes that motto carries on.
“That reflects the kind of ministry that I attempted to establish at Seymour, in that I wanted the people who came to church to realize they were becoming a part of a family,” he said.
Cochran said he and his wife, Connie, felt at home from the very beginning.
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“This was a wonderful place for us to live and to raise our children, and the people have just been tremendous,” he said. “They supported me and loved me, and I became a part of their family, and they became a part of ours. We just fell in love with our people, and they loved us in return.”
The Cochrans now live in Fishers, and Bruce is serving as a transitional minister, working with churches that are in between pastors.
At First Baptist Church guest speakers are leading the Sunday services while the four members of the ministerial staff are in charge of the various classes and programs.
Shellie Jordan, director of youth ministries, said she appreciates Cochran’s leadership. Jordan worked with him for 12 years.
“I think a great way to talk about him is he came here as our pastor, but he left here as our friend,” Jordan said. “He was still our pastor, still very much our shepherd, but I think a multitude of people would have considered him a friend first.”
Jordan said the church is seeking a transitional pastor to serve anywhere from nine to 12 months. Then, they will be looking for a permanent senior pastor.
“Our transitional pastor will hopefully be about 30 hours a week to become a part of the church family,” Jordan said. “I am just hoping it can be somebody to help our children grieve the loss of Bruce and Connie and move our church to a place where we’re ready for a full-time pastor.”
On Feb. 8, more than 350 attended a send-off dinner for the Cochrans at Celebrations in Seymour. The evening included a skit by members of the congregation that reflected the couple’s lives, including Bruce’s love for “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“It was a perfect idea. We were just pleased,” he said. “I asked them to make it lighthearted because that could be a very emotional time for everyone involved, and they did a great job honoring us and honoring our ministry.”
Bruce Cochran, who grew up in Michigan and Kentucky, said becoming a pastor was always on his radar screen. Several family members, including his father and one of his sons, are pastors.
After graduating in 1972 from Boyle County High School in Danville, Kentucky, he served in the Air Force for three-and-a-half years.
Following his service to the country, he began studying to become a minister.
“Sooner or later, you have to make it your own, as it is for anybody in their spiritual walk,” he said. “After being in the service for a while, I began to reflect more on my spirituality, and faith became more of my own.”
Cochran did his undergraduate studies at Liberty Baptist University and earned his master of divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
While still studying at the seminary, he became the minister at Long Run Baptist Church in Vevay. After graduating, he moved to Clarklake Community Church in Michigan.
Then, he and his wife moved to Pomona, California, for him to be on the staff at Pomona First Baptist Church. They were there for four-and-a-half years.
During that time, he began working toward his master of theology degree through Fuller Theological Seminary. He completed that once they moved to Seymour.
Since Bruce was from the Midwest and Connie grew up in Dayton, Ohio, they wanted to be closer to family. Bruce learned of an opening at the Seymour church.
“Our kids were still in school, and we were looking for a small town that had a large enough church where I could work with the staff and do something substantial in that way,” Bruce said.
During Cochran’s 22 years, First Baptist Church saw growth in various aspects. He said there always has been a strong emphasis on missions and outreach.
“Most of all, we tried to establish the church as a place where people could come and have their faith grow,” he said. “Out of their faith, they could then become the kind of person that God wanted them to be.”
Given how close he and his wife were with the congregation, that made the decision to retire difficult, Cochran said.
“But over the years, we began to realize that we felt that we were ready for change in our own lives,” he said. “We wanted to get closer to our granddaughters and son, who live in Fort Wayne. We felt like it was also time that the church was ready for a new voice. We left at a time appropriate for us and the church.”
The Cochrans are now settled in Fishers, which is halfway between their sons — Ryan in Fort Wayne and Adam in Columbus.
Even though he retired from the Seymour church, Cochran isn’t done working. He said he is going to be the interim pastor at Mounds Baptist Church in Anderson.
“They usually say, and I knew it’s true, pastors hardly ever really retire. They just go work somewhere else, they minister somewhere else,” Cochran said with a laugh.
Cochran also hopes to find some time for his hobbies, which include deer hunting, bird watching, riding his motorcycle or bicycle and collecting model trains. He and wife also hope to do some traveling.
“I’m wanting to embrace the next chapter of my life, whatever that means, whatever the Lord leads us into,” he said. “We’re excited about the next chapter of our lives.”
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First Baptist Church is at 505 Community Drive in Seymour.
Each Sunday, it conducts a traditional service at 9 a.m. and a contemporary service in the fellowship hall at 11:15 a.m. There also is Sunday school at 10:10 a.m., a Wednesday night Bible study for adults and kids and a junior high program.
For information, visit fbchome.org or call 812-522-1909.
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Name: Bruce Cochran
Hometown: Grew up in Michigan and Kentucky
Occupation: Pastor who recently retired from First Baptist Church in Seymour after 22 years and is now a transitional pastor. He is going to be the interim pastor at Mounds Baptist Church in Anderson.
Education: Boyle County High School in Danville, Kentucky; United States Air Force; Liberty Baptist University (undergraduate studies); Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (master of divinity degree); Fuller Theological Seminary (master of theology degree)
Past churches: Long Run Baptist Church (Vevay); Clarklake Community Church (Clarklake, Michigan); Pomona First Baptist Church (Pomona, California)
Family: Wife, Connie Cochran; sons, Adam Cochran of Columbus and Ryan Cochran of Fort Wayne. Ryan is the pastor at Broadway Christian Church in Fort Wayne, and he and his wife, Katie, have three daughters.