Dr. Clarence Eugene Cowen
September 24, 1904 – May 10, 1975
Doc Cowen was a big man. He was a big man in stature but also a big man in the eyes of others. He truly loved God and the message of holiness. Without question he was a hero of the faith.
Dr. C. E. Cowen was born to Mr. and Mrs. Albert Cowen in Fordland, MO on September 24, 1904. His younger years were spent in this small town in the Ozarks. His boyhood was much like that of his peers. His teenage love which continued into adulthood was the sport of basketball. In fact, he played basketball for the Fordland High School.
After graduating from High School he enrolled in the John Fletcher College of Oskaloosa, Iowa. From there he went to the University of Missouri at Columbia where he earned his Master’s and Doctor in Philosophy degrees.
He was converted while yet in his late teens, and he consecrated his life and talents in total dedication to the ministry of God’s Word. He prepared himself with an unusually thorough knowledge of the Bible. His deep convictions, great zeal and fervent love for his fellow men gave him outstanding ability in preaching and teaching the truth. He read widely, listened avidly, prayed fervently, and loved deeply. One of the five languages which he could read was Greek, and this helped him to really understand the Bible. He could quote whole chapters of the Word, for not only did he read and study it constantly, but he took time to memorize. All of this gave depth for his gift of oratory.
On May 16, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, he was married to his sweetheart Helen J. Carrier. They added six children to their happy marriage. Margaret E. Neden, Juanita Chavez, Carolyn Thomas and Eleanor Maddox were his special girls. Kenneth and Albert Cowen were his pals. During his lifetime his family continued to grow until he had 11 grandchildren.
This remarkable man was not satisfied to be common or ordinary. He stood head and shoulders above others during his fifty years of dedicated ministry. He was an outstanding holiness preacher and teacher. He was a church planter, pastor and a professor. For fifty years he dedicated himself to the ministry of spreading Bible Holiness.
Dr. Cowen established the local Church of God (Holiness) in Columbia, MO while attending the university. During his twenty year pastorate at this location he also was greatly used not only the start several new churches in the area but also in the establishment of the Kansas City College and Bible School. He served on the first school board for the institution and then became its third president in 1944. For the next twenty-five years he gave himself to this work. Nine of those years he also pastored the Overland Park Church of God (Holiness). In 1969 he and Mrs. Cowen moved to Colorado to pastor the Littleton Church of God (Holiness). During those years he founded the Rocky Mountain Christian School.
He was an able leader. He had a humble spirit, a sharp mind and a tender heart. He was fun loving and all enjoyed his deep and rumbling infectious laugh which at times was hard for him to contain. His vision for progress in God’s work was uncanny. He was an optimist whose faith could melt the unbelief of a tight-fisted skeptic. His courage and dedication were an inspiration to all his colleagues. One of his peers once stated, “I don’t understand how I can be so strongly opposed to something Doc Cowen is for while I am away from him and yet so strongly in favor of the same thing while I am with him.”
Doc Cowen’s great burden was directed to the training of young people. He was totally dedicated to the training and education of youth. His life majored in ?Christian Education and he lived to see scores of his former students take their places of responsibility in pulpits across the land and on mission fields afar. He especially loved his “boys,” as he called the young ministers, and he never tired of counseling and guiding them. He was always able to impart to any young person the feeling that, “You can do it.”
Kansas City College and Bible School meant more to Doc Cowen than any other thing, it seemed. He was willing to teach all week, pray into the night, and then get into a car and travel over the weekend in the interest of the school. He was not interested in getting extra pay. In fact, at times he returned his pay check to the school in order to keep things going.
One of his many achievements was the construction of many new buildings on the College campus. These include the Cowen Memorial Auditorium, the Watkins Memorial Library and Classroom building, Noah’s Ark Preschool and Shafer Hall. During his presidency eight addition acres of adjoining land were purchased, a new chapel building was erected on the campus, and a duplex for faculty housing was built. If this was not enough, he also completed and published his book “History of the Church of God (Holiness)” during this time.
He served for many years as Chairman of the annual General Convention of the Church of God (Holiness). He served on every board in the movement. Twenty-five years he served on the World Missions board. He also served on the Evangelistic Faith Missions board and traveled extensively in their behalf. Although his heart and soul were in the Church of God (Holiness) and Kansas City College and School he was too big for one church movement. He was known and loved by holiness people in all parts of the country. He was used extensively and powerful as evangelist in churches and campmeetings.
A holiness hero? Yes, Doc Cowen stands tall in our memory.
Even with a close relationship, he was always “Doctor” Cowen to me. Intellectual, compassionate, gentle and generous of spirit, forgiving to those lesser, loving father and truly loyal, caring husband he was my hero. Fifty years later, he remains a daily inspiration to me. He was the definition of saintliness.