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Balancing act – Halls, Tenn. minister doubles as preschool operator

From spreading the word of God to fellow church members at Mount Zion Church to teaching numbers and shapes to preschool students, Portia Adams Coffer balances a productive life in the small town of Halls, Tenn.

Mount Zion is the compact church home of 80 to 100 members, with the Rev. Rodney Patrick leading Sunday services as pastor. On occasion, Coffer – a minister – serves in that role.

Coffer and her husband, Antonio Coffer, live near Mount Zion. Their home doubles as a private preschool, where she teaches the basics to children starting at age three.

While teaching is a career path, its also a form of ministry for Coffer. And speaking specifically about ministering in her church role, Coffer said, “Ministry is – for me – more than a responsibility. It’s my life’s purpose and I love it.”

Coffer was raised in Halls and grew up attending church at Mt. Zion, where her mother, Aleice Adams, is the pianist. In 2003, she acted on her calling to public ministry, receiving her license the same year. At the time, she was a member of One Faith Fellowship International Church in Covington, Tenn.

Following her heart in 2016, Coffer returned to Mt. Zion, where Patrick has helped with the development of her ministry.

Rev. Rodney Patrick

“Rodney Patrick has been an avid supporter of my ministry calling and he allows me to serve the church through public speaking alongside him and a few other ministers at our church,” Coffer said.

Patrick said, “I try to set a good example as a leader and allow her to share her gift with the ministry. I was excited to see her return; she has a lot to offer the kingdom of God.

“Coffer does a very good job of being herself,” he said. “She is comfortable in her own skin and just that alone brings great balance.”

At Mount Zion, there is emphasis put on improving the community.

“Over the next few months, our church will be rebuilding in a much more accessible area for the community of Halls,” Coffer said. “We will then be able to build our community more than we have been in the past. I would like to see all churches in our community serve the people more by the way of outreach for salvation, food and educational enrichment for the youth.”

Coffer studied early childhood education at Middle Tennessee State University. In 2001, she began teaching preschool at ABCee’s Learning Academy, journeying on to a couple of other preschools as a teacher and director.

Now in charge of her own preschool, Coffer’s students learn skills such as writing letters, counting and recognition of shapes and colors. She also helps them develop social skills through various active play activities.

In her school and at Mt. Zion, Coffer’s commitment to helping children is ongoing, with her husband noting the “great advice” she doles out to the youth at the church.

As for his wife’s ministry, Antonio Coffer said, “The first time I heard her preach I was amazed and very engaged.

“She gives sermons where everyone can understand what she is preaching about and you feel the Holy Spirit through her words.”

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