1872–1954
portrait

June 11, 1872, Dale En­ter­prise, Rock­ing­ham Coun­ty, Vir­gin­ia.

June 28, 1954, Vine­land, On­tar­io, Ca­na­da.

Vine­land Men­non­ite Ce­me­te­ry, Vine­land, On­tar­io, Ca­na­da.

Photo & biography courtesy of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada

Samuel was the son of John S. Coff­man and Eliz­a­beth J. Heat­wole.

He spent most of his school years in Elk­hart Coun­ty, In­di­a­na, where his fa­mi­ly had moved in 1879. He gra­du­at­ed from the Elk­hart High School in 1890, and at­tend­ed the Moo­dy Bi­ble In­sti­tute (1894–95, and for six months in 1897–98).

He was con­vert­ed at meet­ings held in Elk­hart by his fa­ther, and was baptized on May 26, 1888.

From 1890–94, he worked for the Men­non­ite Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny in Elk­hart. He was elect­ed su­per­in­ten­dent of the Elk­hart Men­non­ite Sun­day school on De­cem­ber 28, 1893. In 1894–95 he served in the Men­non­ite Home Mis­sion in Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois. There he was or­dained to the min­is­try in 1895. He be­came a bi­shop in Vine­land, On­tar­io, in 1903.

Coffman served wide­ly in his de­nom­in­a­tion be­yond the bor­ders of his own con­gre­ga­tion and con­fer­ence. He was mod­er­at­or of the On­tar­io Con­fer­ence in 1931–34, and mo­der­at­or of the Gen­er­al Con­fer­ence in 1911 and 1933. He al­so served as sec­re­ta­ry of the Gen­er­al Con­fer­ence for a time.

He was a mem­ber of the fol­lowing Gen­er­al Con­fer­ence com­mit­tees: Mu­sic Com­mit­tee, from its be­gin­ning in 1911 un­til 1947; Peace Prob­lems Com­mit­tee 1925–49; His­tor­i­cal Com­mittee from its in­cep­tion in 1911, and its chair­per­son from 1911 un­til 1947; Gen­er­al Sun­day School Com­mit­tee from its be­gin­ning in 1915 un­til it was in­cor­po­rat­ed in­to the Com­miss­ion for Chris­tian Ed­u­ca­tion and Young People’s Work in 1937.

He served for a time on the Mis­sions Com­mittee of the Men­nonite Board of Miss­ions and Cha­ri­ties. He served on the Men­non­ite Board of Ed­u­ca­tion from its in­cep­tion in 1905 un­til about 1944, serv­ing as sec­re­ta­ry for about 20 years. He al­so served on the Pub­li­ca­tion Board and its Pub­lish­ing Com­mit­tee.

He was the found­er and served as prin­ci­pal of the On­tar­io Men­non­ite Bi­ble School in Kitch­en­er, On­tar­io (1907–47). He was ed­it­or of the Bi­ble stu­dy de­part­ment of the Chris­tian Mo­ni­tor from the be­gin­ning of its pub­li­ca­tion in 1909 un­til 1953.

He served as pas­tor of the Moy­er con­gre­ga­tion in Vine­land from 1902 un­til his death, and as bi­shop of the Ni­a­ga­ra Dis­trict from 1903. He was a char­ter mem­ber of the Non­res­ist­ant Re­lief Or­gan­i­za­tion in On­tar­io, or­gan­ized in 1918, and its sec­re­ta­ry 1920–54.

In 1918 he was ap­pointed the spe­cial cor­res­pon­dent with the Ca­na­di­an gov­ern­ment re­gard­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice and the im­mi­gr­ation of the Rus­sian Men­non­ites. He was as­so­ci­at­ed with the Ca­na­di­an Men­non­ite Board of Col­o­ni­za­tion (1922–44), and ac­tive­ly aid­ed the im­mi­gra­tion from Rus­sia to On­tar­io (1922–25).

In his ear­li­er min­is­try, he was wide­ly used in Bi­ble con­fer­ence and evan­gel­is­tic work. In 1901 on a com­miss­ion from the On­tar­io Con­fer­ence, he or­gan­ized a num­ber of con­gre­ga­tions and or­dained min­is­ters and dea­cons in Al­ber­ta.

During Coff­man’s time as hymn ed­it­or of the Mu­sic Com­mit­tee, the fol­low­ing books ap­peared at Scott­dale, Penn­syl­van­ia:

  1. Extol the Love of Christ (1925)
  2. In Thy Ho­ly Place
  3. We Bless the Name of Christ, the Lord