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Tom McLaughlin (in gray) passes the torch to John Cooper Jr.
Tom McLaughlin (in gray) passes the torch to John Cooper Jr.

John Cooper Jr. takes over at Niagara Gospel Mission


Fri, Jan 5th 2024 01:20 pm

Says ‘My family and faith have always taught me to care for those in need’

John Cooper Jr. has taken the helm as executive director of Niagara Gospel Mission, 1317 Portage Road, Niagara Falls. He replaces Tom McLaughlin, who retired at the end of 2023.

A graduate of Niagara Wheatfield High School, and a member of the Cooper Sign Company family, Cooper said his family has been a part of the Niagara Falls community since the late 1700s.

“I have a deep love for helping people and for the City of Niagara Falls,” Cooper said. “My family has served in the business community and local organizations for decades. We’ve fought in our nation’s wars and as part of the Underground Railroad. My family and faith have taught me to care for those in need.”

Cooper was hired at the agency as a development director in February 2022 after serving in the Army as a sniper section leader. But his relationship with the Niagara Gospel Mission actually began in 2011 when he volunteered as a chapel speaker.

“I’ve always wanted to share the love of Jesus Christ in word and deed,” he said.

Recently ordained as a Baptist pastor, Cooper graduated from Clarks Summit University in Pennsylvania and is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree in leadership through Liberty University.

“I want Niagara Falls to become a strong city again, and I believe that happens when we focus on those in need and love them,” he said.

Cooper’s military background, and focus on leadership, discipline and mental health, have already driven changes to Niagara Gospel Mission’s programs and services. In the fall of 2022, the agency opened the Liberty Suite exclusively for homeless military veterans. In 2023, he instituted a series of symposiums dealing with veterans’ and mental health issues. In 2024, he plans to initiate a structured discipleship program, offering life-skills classes, regular work assignments, and Bible study.

The Niagara Gospel Mission will also begin a three-year campaign to open a women’s center in Niagara Falls.

Cooper, his wife Elizabeth, and their three boys live in Niagara Falls.

Niagara Gospel Mission is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit providing services to the homeless and poor. Visit https://niagaragospelmission.org/ to learn more.

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