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Couple's marriage is their ministry

Cary Ashby • Mar 29, 2019 at 7:30 PM

Marriage and ministry go hand in hand for Vince and Nicole Cooper.

“Our marriage is our ministry,” said Vince, the lead pastor at the Oasis Church in Norwalk. “We work together; we’re literally together 24/7.”

In the ministry since 1997, the Norwalk man said some people may not understand how it is to work with their spouse unless they have been down the same path. The Coopers have been married for 28 years.

“We date once a week. Dating is a priority,” said Nicole, referring to how they keep their relationship fresh and strong.

In addition to serving as pastors together, the Coopers have been chaplains for the Norwalk Police Department since 2012. Part of their responsibilities are assisting officers with death notifications and offering to speak to someone at a crime scene.

“A chaplain is a spiritual supporter to the police department,” Vince said.

The Coopers are very familiar with what it takes to be a cop. Both of their sons are in law enforcement; Ben works for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and Jason is a member of the Capital University Police Department in Columbus.

“We know what they face. We pray for our boys,” their father said.

Since May, the Oasis Church has been having services at the former Moose Lodge in Norwalk, 11 S. Prospect St. Oasis took over the location once the Church of the King disbanded.

“We want to be an oasis, where you feel refreshed,” said Nicole, the Oasis assistant pastor who has been a minister for 10 years.

Before worshipping in downtown Norwalk, Oasis met at the clubhouse at Veterans Memorial Lake Park from October 2017 through April 2018. For 18 years, the church was at 79 E. Main St. The Maple City Church of God purchased that property in May 2017.

“We were outgrowing the reservoir,” said Vince, whose congregation has learned to see the different locations over the years “as an adventure.”

“They actually love it,” his wife added.

“It’s actually stronger than it was before,” Vince said, referring to the church members. “This is all an adventure in faith. … We have learned that the church is not the building — it’s the people.”

The Oasis Church has purchased the property at 275 Whittlesey Ave., which is directly across from the Westwind Drive intersection. Oasis bought the land in the fall of 2017 and currently is in the engineering phase.

“Hopefully by the end of the summer we’ll have a building shell up,” Vince said.

The plan is to build a 9,000 square-foot building in three phases.

Oasis is often where residents come to worship after being “hurt” from other church experiences, Vince said, so he hopes Oasis offers “a healing culture” and atmosphere.

“We try to create a safe culture,” the pastor added.

“It’s a really great church,” Nicole said. “The people are amazing.”

The Oasis Church vision statement is “building strong people to transform our community.”

“We really want to invest in people. We want to build people stronger to invest in our community,” Vince said.

Oasis is an Assembly of God church. The Norwalk branch was started in 1989.

“We are friendly and inviting. We are good at preaching the Word of God. No fluff,” Nicole said.

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