After serving four years in the US Army, Dr. Cockrell went on to study at Tennessee Temple for the ministry. With more than 50 years of ministry experience, he first became a member of the ABWE Advisory Council in 1985 and joined the ABWE Executive Board in 1995. He pastored three churches over a span of 40 years in Kansas City, Mo., Tampa, Fla., and Buffalo, N.Y. and served as a senior consultant with Injoy Stewardship Services under John C. Maxwell, helping churches develop leadership and direction for their future.
Dr. Cockrell served as president from 2011-2013, providing stability to the organization and its ministries in a difficult season. Yet he sensed that deeper change was needed. He returned as president in 2016, building trust through personal and townhall-style meetings and appointing key leaders to the Senior Leadership Team for the future.
First diagnosed with cancer in 2011—while leading the organization from ABWE’s Harrisburg, Pa. headquarters—he received 45 radiation treatments, driving back and forth from his medical appointments to his office, never missing a day of work.
“God called him to do what he wanted him to do for his purposes,” said his wife, Janie Cockrell. “We were grateful to be in that position to do what needed to be done for the future.”
Dr. Cockrell’s second term culminated in the appointment of Paul Davis as president in 2017.
“He loved the ABWE family and the pastors, our missionaries, and all that we were able to be a part of,” Janie said.
“Martha and I would not be serving at ABWE apart from Al and Janie,” said current ABWE President Paul Davis. “We will deeply miss Al. His presence in our lives was a gift of God’s grace, and his wisdom in leadership and ministry will not be forgotten. We are honored to serve in the legacy that he left in global missions, as we know he heard a hearty ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ when he arrived in glory.”
Dr. Cockrell is survived by Janie, his sons Brek, Jonathan, and Thad, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. A memorial will be held at Renovation Church in Hampstead, N.C., where the Cockrells’ son Jonathan serves as pastor. Details will be shared by the family as they become available.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)