Douglas Coe

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Douglas Evans Coe (October 20, 1928 – February 21, 2017) was associate director of the Christian organization, The Fellowship (also known as a family of friends in Christ, the Prayer Breakfast groups[1]). He has also been referred to as the "stealth Billy Graham."[2] In 2005, Coe was named one of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in the United States by Time magazine.[3] Coe was an ordained Presbyterian elder and served as a lay minister.[4]


Douglas Coe was born in Medford, Oregon.[5] He attended Willamette University in Salem, graduating in 1953.

Coe's ministry in mentoring and discipling was widely known, as well as his enjoyment of athletics and his devoted family life, having raised three boys and three girls. Somewhat diffident about attention and reluctant to do public speaking he routinely denied requests for interviews and speeches to large audiences.[6] He was born and raised in Oregon. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Willamette University.[7] While enrolled as a college student, Coe met Dean of Men and future Fellowship associate and Senator Mark O. Hatfield. Coe became involved with Young Life, a campus youth ministry, in Salem, Oregon, and went on to start a chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship with Roy Cook while enrolled at Willamette University.[8] Coe and Cook became involved in laymen’s groups of various kinds and helped establish a "navigator house" in Salem.[8] They met Abraham Vereide when he visited Salem, the capital of Oregon for a Governor's Prayer Breakfast and were fascinated by his visionary communication of a "leadership led by God, empowered by His Spirit."[8]

After working with Young Life and the Navigators, Coe, in 1958, at the age of 30, was employed by Vereide at the International Christian Leadership on Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. and after initially doing clerical jobs in the office he served as aide de camp to Vereide and by 1963 had become an assistant director of ICL. He worked alongside of Vereide, Wallace Haines, Clifton Robinson and Richard C. Halverson, the clergy executives of the global ministry. Coe was trained by Jim Rayburn and Lorne Sanny in the methods of Bible memorization, study and teaching and Vereide also had him mentored by young Billy Graham, an effective youth minister and former president (1948-1952) of Northwestern College, a frequent house guest of Vereide's and a former disciple from ICL's Chicago days.[9][10][11][12][13] Richard Halverson commented, Coe "became the godfather ... but for good, not for bad." [6]

Coe was a member of the Planning Committee for the National Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values.[14]

Coe died in Annapolis, Maryland on February 21, 2017 from complications of a heart attack, aged 88.[5]

Political influence and private diplomacy[edit]

The extent of Coe's influence in American politics is a subject of debate. Nevertheless important figures have acknowledged his role on the national and international stage. For instance, speaking at the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, President George H.W. Bush praised Coe for his "quiet diplomacy, I wouldn't say secret diplomacy".[15]

The Fellowship was a behind-the-scenes player at the Camp David Accords in 1978, working with President Jimmy Carter to issue a worldwide call to prayer with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. In 2000, Coe met with top economic officials of Pakistan as a "special envoy" of U. S. Representative Joe Pitts[citation needed]. Coe met with President George H.W. Bush as he hosted a luncheon with Iraq's ambassador to the United States in the mid-1980s[citation needed]. In 2001, The Fellowship helped arrange a private meeting at Cedars between two warring leaders, Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, one of the first of a series of discreet meetings between the two African leaders that eventually led to the signing of a peace accord.[16] Coe was a member of the large United States Congressional and ministerial delegation which accompanied then First Lady Hillary Clinton to the 1997 funeral of the founder of the Sisters of Charity, Mother Teresa.[17] He is mentioned by John Ortberg in his book If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat as the pastor of a man, named only as 'Bob', who had great influence on bringing medicine and releasing political prisoners in Kenya.[18] Coe convened a meeting between Bob Mitchell, the President of Young Life, Jay Kesler, the President of Youth for Christ, and Colonel James Meredith of United States Army at Vereide's Fellowship House in Washington, D.C. on July 29, 1980, which led to the formation of Military Community Youth Ministries (MCYM), a global program to spiritually and relationally care for children with parents in the military around the world in the similitude of Young Life and InterVarsity, organizations which Coe had served with early in his ministry career.[19]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Coe on many occasions as First Lady of the United States. According to NBC News, she participated in a prayer luncheon at The Cedars, the Fellowship Foundation's historic conference house and grounds on the banks of the Potomac River in February 1993 and met privately with Coe in her White House office on December 19, 1997, and a "Meet & Greet with Business Leaders" on February 4, 1998.[20] Clinton has written that Doug Coe is "a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God."[21] Doug Coe has been referred to as a friend and hero by former Vice President Al Gore.[22][23]

In March 2009, Coe was a featured speaker at the Idaho State Prayer Breakfast.[24][25]

Speakers at the 48th annual Idaho State Prayer Breakfast challenged an audience of more than 600 Saturday to discover Jesus Christ through individual attention, small group fellowships and statewide prayer for leaders.

Former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus introduced Doug Coe. Andrus said the Camp David accords would not have been accomplished without Coe.

Doug Coe, told of how people of all cultures and religious backgrounds can be joined by Jesus' teachings. Coe said small group fellowships have taken place all over the world with communists, atheists, Hindus and Muslims agreeing on the teachings of Jesus.

For example, at one small group fellowship meeting, Cecil Andrus asked Arthur Burns, a Jew, to speak. Burns prayed, "Dear God, I pray that all the Jewish people in the world will come to know Jesus. Dear God, I pray that all the Muslims in the world will come to know Jesus. Dear God, I pray that all the Christians in the world will come to know Jesus. Dear God, I pray that everyone in the world will come to know Jesus."

Doug Coe, former Young Life and InterVarsity leader told Saturday's audience: "That's the message for our kids, for our country. Jesus is the answer."[26]

The Coe family[edit]

Douglas Coe was a descendant of early colonist Robert Coe (1596–1689).[27][28][29] The son of Milton Evans and Loda Helene (Davis) Coe, he was born October 20, 1928, in Medford, Oregon.[28] His father, a public-school teacher, and mother were married December 26, 1923, at Yamhill, Oregon.[28] His paternal grandfather, Curtis Pearre Coe, was a Baptist minister and missionary.

When he wasn't traveling, Coe resided in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Janice, in a home located on the grounds of the former Doubleday Mansion, renamed the Cedars. He and his wife had six children.[7] They had 21 grandchildren.[7]


  1. ^ Perry, Steve (2008-06-21). "Imperial Jesus: 'Family" author Jeff Sharlet on the secret history of the other Christian right | Twin Cities Daily Planet". Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  2. ^ "25 Most Influential Evangelicals Photo Essay". Time. July 2, 2005. Archived from the original on April 10, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ Van Biema, David, etc (February 7, 2005) Douglas Coe in "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" Time Retrieved on 2008 – June 14
  4. ^ Presbytery of Washington Records of 1970 ordinations
  5. ^ a b Zach Montague (February 22, 2017). "Doug Coe, Influential Evangelical Leader, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  7. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  8. ^ a b c "Microsoft Word - The Willowbank Story - Revised Pages.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  9. ^ "Records of the Fellowship Foundation - Collection 459". Archived from the original on 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ ICL Archives Dupont Circle office
  12. ^ Grubb, Norman (1961) Modern Viking, page 192
  13. ^ Adair, Marian (2003) Window on Washington, page28
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  15. ^ Sharlet, Jeff (2008). The Family: Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Harper-Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-055979-3. 
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-18. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  17. ^ "In Other News". CNN. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  18. ^ John Ortberg, "If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat", Zondervan 2001, pp91-93
  19. ^[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Filed Under: Politics (2008-04-03). "NBC News Exclusive: Political ties to a secretive religious group - Deep Background -". Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  21. ^ Ehrenreich, Barbara (March 28, 2008). "Hillary's Nasty Pastorate". Huffington Post. 
  22. ^ Cook, Brian (2008-08-12). "Unholy Allies". In These Times. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  23. ^ "Career Advice Articles | Career Tips & Job Search Help". Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  24. ^ "Idaho State Prayer Breakfast". Idaho State Prayer Breakfast. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  25. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  26. ^ [1][dead link]
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^ a b c "Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  29. ^ "Message Boards". Retrieved 2017-02-22. 

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