Born: June 11, 1872, Dale Enterprise, Rockingham County, Virginia.
Died: June 28, 1954, Vineland, Ontario, Canada.
Buried: 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: