GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (BNc) — On Monday, Jan. 5, 2009 Perry Boyd Cotham celebrated his 97th birthday by going out and eating Chinese food with some close friends.
He started preaching the gospel in 1929 at the age of 17, and plans to continue teaching and preaching this year, Lord willing. He has preached in all 50 states of the US and in seventy-five other countries.
Perry was born on Jan. 5, 1912 near Murray, Kentucky. His parents were Benjamin and Nannie (Boyd) Cotham, who were active members of the Antioch church of Christ, south of Farmington.
His mother had read the Bible and Bible stories to him from childhood. As long as he can remember, he always wanted to preach. As a boy he would preach to some of the neighborhood children from a buggy and baptize sticks. When he was in the 8th grade, his mother died. They lived on a farm, and he helped his father take care of two younger brothers.
Perry was baptized by Ira Douthitt in July 1927. The next summer Jewell Norman asked him to go with him to Illinois to lead singing in a mission meeting. In the fall of 1929 Perry entered Freed-Hardeman College, a junior college at that time. He started preaching for country churches in the area. After two years he enrolled in Murray State University and graduated in June, 1934 with a B. A. degree.
His first full-time work was in Shawnee, Oklahoma beginning in Oct 1934. While there he did radio preaching and conducted meetings in the area. He also married Teresa Overby on June 25, 1936. They had two sons and one daughter. Teresa passed away Jan. 7, 1998.
Perry preached for various congregations in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas until he started holding gospel meetings full-time in 1972. Thousands have been baptized during his many years of ministry.
More than 16 gospel tracts written by Perry have been widely distributed in the US and throughout the world. They have been translated into many different languages. In his travels he has also distributed thousands of Bibles in various languages.
Perry has spoken on many lectureships and has defended the truth in many debates. Three debates dealing with Pentecostalism have been published. In Dec. 1986 he held a debate in the high school auditorium at Swainsboro, Georgia with Billy Davis on the Godhead and Miracles Today. Shortly after the debate, the local Pentecostal church stopped meeting.
Perry recently published a new book, ‘Beyond the Sunset’, dealing with topics such as immortality, heaven, hell, the realm of the dead, the judgment, and the resurrection. He also refutes related false doctrines such as the evolution theory of man’s origin, purgatory, second chance, and the rapture. It has 28 chapters and 404 pages.