As he has done for more than 70 years, Bill Cox continues to impact the lives of others through his music and message.
The biggest difference is that Cox now travels the hallway instead of the highway.
The renowned former minister of music and evangelist, who turns 95 this month, still has a strong and powerful voice — and he uses it every weekend at the assisted living facility where he now resides.
Lifelong commitment to ministry
For the past two years, Cox has hosted a weekly worship service for the residents at Creekside at Three Rivers in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Saturday mornings. The worship sessions typically include a group of about 20 seniors who gather in a central meeting room for a time of song, prayer and Scripture study.
“The Lord has left me with my voice,” said Cox, “and I still use it for His glory. God has been so good to me.”
The weekly worship services represent the continuation of a lifelong commitment to ministry for Cox, whose career has included serving on staff at Two Rivers Baptist Church, Nashville, and First Baptist Church Dallas, Texas, along with serving at the Baptist Sunday School Board and a highly successful career in full-time evangelism.
He also recorded several albums and CDs with his wife of 65 years, Catherine, who died in 2014.
Meeting spiritual needs
Cox moved into the assisted living facility in 2019. Shortly after he arrived, Cox became burdened by the fact that many of the residents were unable to attend church on Sundays due to health issues or having no access to get there.
One day, while talking to a close friend, Cox mentioned the situation. The friend answered by saying: “Bill, if they can’t get to church, why don’t you bring church to them?” And that’s exactly what he’s done.
After checking with the staff at Creekside, Cox began hosting the weekly services on Saturdays. Each week, Cox opens the service with several songs and then delivers a brief message. “We have anywhere from 15 to 25 who attend each Saturday,” Cox said. “They are a very loyal group, and it’s such a sweet fellowship.”
Cox said many of the residents have expressed to him how much they appreciate and enjoy the services.
“Recently, I had one lady who stopped by my room during the week just to let me know that she wouldn’t be able to come to the service that week,” he said, “but she wanted me to know that she would be praying for us while we met.”
At the end of each service, Cox gives attendees a list of verses to read that will help them learn more about the sermon, such as his recent message on the ascension of Christ. “I always recommend that they look up the Scriptures and maybe write them out,” Cox said. “They’ve been very sweet to follow through with it.”
‘Playing some old favorites’
The services generally last about 30 minutes. “They get fidgety if it goes much longer than that,” he said with a chuckle.
One of the other residents from the center plays the piano each week, and a staff member plays the guitar. The music usually starts about 15 or 20 minutes before the service — “playing some old favorites” as Cox puts it.
The service begins at 10:30 a.m. with Cox leading the music and usually singing a solo before he brings the message.
“It’s just a sweet, wonderful fellowship of people,” Cox said.
Cox is still in good health, although he now requires a walker. He said he looks forward to the weekly services and enjoys the opportunity to continue his ministry.
“I get on my computer two or three times each day,” he said, “and I prepare each week for the message that I am going to give. (As for my health), I feel good. I’m a little unsteady on my feet, but I use the walker and keep on going. The Lord has been so good to me.”
Cox has two grown daughters, both of whom live close to the facility, and they stop by frequently to check on Cox.
He said he plans to continue the weekly services as long as he is able to do so.
“We have a new manager (at the facility),” he said. “And I (recently) asked her, ‘do you still want me to do the worship service on Saturday mornings?’ And she replied, ‘Oh, there’s no question there.’ So, it will continue as long as I can do it.”
Cox said he is grateful for the opportunity to keep sharing his gift of music in this chapter of his life.
“I know the Lord is going to take me home one of these days,” he said, “but as of right now, I’m feeling good. I don’t have any physical problems. I sleep well, and I spend time studying the Scriptures.
“I have a great life,” he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — David Dawson wrote this story that was originally published by the Tennessee Baptist and Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.