Henry Sloan Coffin

1877-1954. Theological educator. Born in New York City and educated at Yale, Edinburgh, and Union Theological Seminary, New York, he was ordained in 1900 and established a Presbyterian mission congregation in the Bronx. From 1905 to 1926 he was pastor of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, where he became known as one of the most eloquent preachers in the USA. During that period he also taught practical theology at Union Theological Seminary, and in 1926 he became Brown professor of homiletics and president of the seminary, continuing in that capacity until 1945.

Coffin was influential in American Protestantism as a preacher, a theological educator, a proponent of the Social Gospel,* a liturgist and hymnologist, and a participant in the ecumenical movement. He was a leader of the liberal faction in the Presbyterian Church in the USA, who worked hard to promote theological inclusivism in that denomination. He called himself an “evangelical liberal” and sought to moderate the antagonism between conservatives and extreme liberals. Among his many books are In a Day of Social Rebuilding (1918) and The Meaning of the Cross (1933).