Coy Wilkerson, retired pastor and church planter, dies

By Robin Talley* | May 30, 2023

Coy Wilkerson, Arizona Southern Baptist pastor, interim pastor and church planter, died March 21, 2023. He was 87.

“Coy was always thinking about sharing Christ and where to start the next church. He was a modern-day Paul,” James Hayes, retired Arizona Southern Baptist pastor and church planter, said. “He was a great mentor and encourager. He never complained about life’s circumstances. He is greatly missed.”

When Wilkerson retired in 2019 as pastor of First Country Baptist Church in Surprise, he had served as pastor there for 19 years.

These years were less than one third of his 64-year career serving Arizona Southern Baptists.

Wilkerson was elected as first vice president of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention in 2001.

“In western terms, Coy Wilkerson was a straight shooter,” Ken Belflower, retired church planting facilitator with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, said. “When I came to Arizona to begin my ministry with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention in 1987, Coy was my mentor.  His straightforwardness and integrity were evident. I will be forever grateful for having known him and having co-labored with him.”

In 2019, Wilkerson received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention for his contributions to planting new churches.

“Coy was always a great friend and mentor to younger men,” Dennis Adams, retired Arizona Southern Baptist, pastor said. “He believed in them, recognized their call and potential, and invested in them. Coy is one of the people responsible for the missionary work I enjoyed for so many years. He left a great legacy for the kingdom in Arizona.”

At the age of 15, Wilkerson felt called to be a pastor. After finishing high school, he attended Grand Canyon College. It was there he met and married his wife, Esther, after a brief courtship.

Wilkerson is survived by his daughters, Laura and Anna; three grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by wife, Esther, and sons Cedrick and Eric.

Services were held on April 15, 2023, at First Country Baptist Church.

Memorial donations may be made to First Country Baptist Church, 12844 W Santa Fe Drive, Surprise, AZ 85278, for the Sound System Fund.

*Name changed for security

Robin Talley, longtime Arizona Southern Baptist, is a former Last Frontier missionary with the International Mission Board.

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