(Taken from American Preachers of To-Day by Edgar DeWitt Jones, 1933)
Cowin’s method of sermon composition is, I think, unusual. He does not write his sermons out in full. In truth, he writes little if at all. He reads, fills himself full of his subject and then walks, walks, walks. He does not pace his study so much as he paces the city streets and country roads when the latter are available. When he was preaching in Detroit, Frederick used to walk the three or four miles from his house to his church, and all along the way he turned over in his mind the sermon that he was soon to deliver. Some preachers like to come into the pulpit from a half-hour of quiet, absolute quiet. Cowin likes most to enter the pulpit after trudging for an hour or so through the streets. Joseph Parker was also famed as a pedestrian, and studied themes as he strode along London thoroughfares.
In 1932 Mr. Cowin made his debut as a sepeark at the International Convention of the Disciples, meeting that year at Indianapolis. He spoke at the Christian Unity session taking as his subject “Broken Walls.” Having been at one time or another preacher in three distinct theological groups among the Disciples he undertook to administer a good-natured spanking to us all for our tendency to talk Christian unity and fail to practise it within our ranks. In the course of the address “he broke some china” as one of those who heard him phrased it. And not even his wit and genial humor saved him from the wrath of some who thought they detected heresy. But there were those present who deemed Cowin’s speech one of the most stimulating and searching of the whole convention. Frederick didn’t sleep much the night that followed his speech, not because it had been criticized, he expected that, but because he feared it might embarrass a dear friend who had made the opporutnity possible. That’s Cowin for you, a considerate gentleman, always, courageous, yet withal tender and gentle, a shepherd of souls, a brotherly prophet of the Lord!
Frederick Cowin is a bit indifferent as to his attire and loses no time trying to decide what necktie to wear or whether it exactly matches his socks. He is the sort of a dominie who would rather stop at a moderate-priced hotel and invest the saving in a first edition or some especially desired volume. It is a joy to loaf with this comrade of the high calling, fold my long legs and talk it out with him. I love to hear him say in broadest Scotch, “Aye, weel, we Scotchmen have a way not only of keeping the Sobbath but everything else we get our hands on, ye know.” To which I reply, sans the rich brogue, “Hoot, Frederick, ye are jokin’; ye might have had a church o’ a thousand members if ye had only caught and kept holdin’ on to the system of sellin’ yourself. Anyhow, Frederick, what’s more important, ye are a-holdin’ on to the Lord, and that’s yon big thing, mind ye!” And it is–the biggest thing!
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