On Tuesday July 27,2010 - I attended a service of celebration of life for a true churchman – Mr. Coy Newell. Coy was the father of Allen Newell. Allen was my best friend through elementary school, middle school and high school. The memories of our friendship are too numerous to record here. With this posting I want to pay tribute to his dad – Coy Newell.
The Charlotte Observer recorded that Mr. Coy Newell, age 78 of Charlotte, died July 24, 2010 at his residence. We were reminded at the service that Coy did not die – he was promoted to his eternal reward. I have called him a true churchman for a reason. He was a faithful member of the First Wesleyan Church of Charlotte, NC for 58 years. Since the age of twenty, with his bride Vickie, they have served the Lord and the church faithfully. Coy and Vickie celebrated over 58 years of marriage recently. Coy held many positions of leadership at the church, but I best remember him leading the choir and his musical ministry.
You may ask – what is so special about a person 23 years your senior and a person you have not seen in several years? Well, Coy played a significant role in my early development as a Christian. I was not raised in a Christian home. My parents or our family did not attend church. Allen invited me to church and I accepted his invitation. (I believe it had something to do with the number of girls in the youth group at the time.)
I vividly remember looking out the picture window of our living room and watch for the family car pull out of the Newell’s drive way. Coy was driving. They would pass the three houses between their house and my house. Then the car would stop – and I would leave the house to get into the back seat for the 10 mile drive to First Wesleyan Church. The Newell family adopted me into their family every Sunday and the church family of First Wesleyan played a major role into loving me into the Kingdom of God. I went with the youth group from First Wesleyan to my first youth camp and later to the youth convention in Atlanta, Georgia in December 1972. It was through that convention that I accepted Jesus as my savior and began my life as a Christian. Each Sunday it was Coy Newell who gave a young man a ride to church. Today that young man is quite a bit older and celebrates 35 years of pastoral ministry this year.
The impact of Coy Newell’s life upon my early spiritual development was imperative. It reminds me of the account found in the Bible – John Chapter 1:40 – 42a
“Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. …”
The Newell family was some of the first Christians I had ever met. They were truly followers of Jesus. Allen found me (as a brother) and with the assistance of his dad – Coy – they brought me to Jesus. They literally – provided a place in their car and took me to church to find Jesus.
Part of the untold story about Coy Newell is his faithful church attendance. An individual who served as Coy’s pastor for many years said “You could describe Coy’s dedication to the church in three phrases: Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.” If the doors of the church were opened – Coy was there.
I was moved by a comment a person sitting in front of me at the service today said. They commented “I thought Coy must really be sick because he had missed 2 Sundays. The next Saturday morning he went to be with the Lord.” Coy Newell had served for years in various capacities of leadership in the church. More recently he had to keep a portable oxygen tank near him and needed assistance in walking – but he was not missing church. The tribute to his life was evident today by the church being filled to capacity with those expressing love to the family and celebrating the life of Coy Newell.
We sang only one song during the service. It was the song that I discovered has been the “church song” of First Wesleyan through the years. When the song was introduced it was said that if you held a hymnal in your hand it would probably open to this song. It is truly one of my favorite songs – and one that I have requested to be sung at my funeral. Here are the words to the last verse and chorus:
I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory.
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.