Coke was born in Brecon, Wales, on Sept. 9, 1747. He received his education at Jesus College, Oxford, and, during his ministry, became an ardent admirer of the Methodists. He gradually joined in their exercises of worship and sought an interview with John Wesley.
On Aug. 18, 1776, he met with Wesley who, much impressed with Coke, accepted him as a member of the Wesley Society. Because of his earnest ministry, Coke was dismissed from his curacy in the Church of England and joined Wesley in preaching to crowds of people on the commons of London. In 1780, he was appointed as superintendent of the London circuit and became associated with Wesley in visiting churches in both England and Ireland. He was very helpful when deciding legal matters confronted by the societies.
Wesley selected Coke as the first general superintendent and, after ordaining him, sent him to America in November 1784 to organize the church and ordain Francis Asbury. After arriving in America, Coke conferred with Asbury and several of the Methodist preachers and called a conference for the purpose of organizing the Methodist Church in America. The preachers assembled in Baltimore, Md., and by unanimous vote resolved to constitute an independent church in America to be called the “Methodist Episcopal Church.” Coke and Asbury were elected as bishops, whereupon Coke ordained Asbury and also a number of deacons and elders at the Christmas Conference.
The left side border symbols of the Coke window, numbered from top to bottom, are: 1. a budded cross with arms if the cross terminating in a trefoil form symbolizing the Holy Trinity; 2. grapes and wheat symbolizing the Eucharist, with the bread prepared of wheat and the wine made from grapes, the visible elements of the Lord’s Supper; 3. the shield of St. Matthias with an open Bible over which is laid a double-bladed axe representing the legend that St. Matthias was beheaded because of preaching the Gospel, Matthias was chosen to succeed Judas Iscariot as one of the 12 apostles by the casting of lots (Acts 1:26).
The right side border symbols of the Coke window, numbered from top to bottom, are: 1. the symbol of the Holy Evangelists in the form of a cross, with books in the corners representing the spreading of the Gospel through the written word; 2. an open book representing the petition’s of God’s people. Petitions, which are read in the worship service, usually have their origins in the ancient liturgies and agendas, The crosses on its pages show the sacred character of the book; and 3. a ladder and a reed with a sponge, representing the sour wine offered to Jesus on a sponge during the Crucifixion.