2 former Alabama Baptist Convention presidents die days apart from COVID-19, dementia

Former Alabama Baptist Convention presidents, Rev. Dewey Corder 80, (L) and the Rev. Harper Shannon, 89 (R).
Former Alabama Baptist Convention presidents, Rev. Dewey Corder 80, (L) and the Rev. Harper Shannon, 89 (R). | Alabama Baptist Convention

The Alabama Baptist Convention recently lost two former presidents just days apart to complications from the new coronavirus and dementia. The Rev. Harper Shannon was 89 when he passed from progressive dementia Wednesday while the Rev. Dewey Corder was 80 when he died from COVID-19 on Christmas Day.

Rick Lance, state missionary and executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions remembered both men in a statement Thursday.

“Dewey Corder was a true gentleman. He was one of the most cheerful men I have known. Every time I talked to him, he was upbeat as he talked about how the Lord was blessing him and his ministry,” Lance wrote of Corder.

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“When I think of Harper Shannon, I remember the words of 2 Corinthians 4:5 in which Paul emphatically declares, ‘For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.’ I will never read that verse again without thinking of my friend, Harper Shannon,” Lance added.

Before sharing individual thoughts on the former leaders, Lance also talked about the impact of the new coronavirus on the faithful and others statewide.

The Alabama Department of Public Health’s Dec. 31 numbers show the state has had 361,226 coronavirus cases since March, adding 4,406 cases over the previous 24 hours. A day earlier, the one day increase in cases was 5,016. Some 4,827 people have also died from the coronavirus in Alabama as of Dec. 31.

“The COVID-19 crisis has taken a toll on the families of so many Alabama Baptists and others in our state – too many to name. This year has been most challenging for all of us in some way or another,” Lance said.

“When the number of cases of COVID-19 began to mount, my pastoral instincts were screaming at me to try to do something. To the best of my knowledge, I tried to contact every pastor and many staff members who were affected by this pandemic.

“Some had mild symptoms and endured the situation well. Others had moderate symptoms which caused some degree of discomfort and no small amount of anxiety. There were still others who had major symptoms. Many of the latter suffered through the situation at home, but some had to be hospitalized. Sadly, there were those who passed from among us during this pandemic,” he explained.

At the time of his death, Corder was pastor of Central Baptist Church in Trussville.

The church announced in a post on their Facebook page on Dec. 9 that he had been hospitalized after developing issues with his breathing and becoming weak due to his COVID-19 infection.

“Please pray that Dewey’s body would respond quickly to their treatments and that God would return him to even BETTER health than before. We KNOW our God is present and does healing miracles every day! Please ask him for a miracle for Dewey (Papaw) tonight,” the church appeal said.

 At 10:31 p.m. on Christmas, the church announced the ending they did not desire.

“Brother Dewey Corder passed away tonight after a major cardiac event. When I spoke with Jackie a few minutes ago she and the family wanted me to thank you all for your many prayers and acts of kindness over the last few weeks. Jackie said for everyone to please thank God for answered prayers. Dewey is healed and is in the arms of Jesus,” the church said.

Both Corder and Shannon served as leaders of multiple churches prior to their deaths.

Shannon retired from full-time ministry in January 1997 after serving 12 years as director of the office of evangelism at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. He served as president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention from 1977 to 1979 The Alabama Baptist reported.

Corder was president of the Alabama Baptist Convention from 1992-'94, and led some of the discussions with Samford University after the university’s board of directors voted in 1994 to break legal ties with the state convention said.

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