Q&A with Terry Bell

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What do you do here at OKWU?

I am an adjunct faculty member here. I love teaching and I teach at several other colleges and universities. I guess I am retired. I was a Senior Pastor for 45 years. I’ve been an adjunct somewhere during that entire time. I love to teach.

What do you like most about teaching at OKWU?

While I’ve taught at many different higher education institutions, OKWU is my favorite. This is because of our 4 pillars. I’m 100% in sync with this vision. I believe we live in a time of great transition and the impact of the church seems to be diminishing. I enjoy the challenge of equipping students meet this challenge in a robust way.

How did you end up here?

I was doing some professional development at the 8th floor when I met a young lady who was doing some work there for OKWU. I was impressed with her passion for the college. She encouraged me to apply and the rest is history.

Where did you originally call home?

Home has always been where the family is. My dad was Air Force and we traveled extensively. I went to 17 different schools from elementary to college. I used to hate that, but now I’m happy we moved so much. Home and church were the main places we belonged. Along with my brother and sister, and of course mom and dad, we were the constants in our lives along with the church. Whenever we moved to a new location, the first thing we did was to find a church. Where there wasn’t a church, we would put adds in the paper and a church would start in our living room. Dad would preach, I would lead singing, Dad and I would lead communion, one of us would lead the closing prayer, then we’d go home, except we were home so we didn’t have to go far. Our family has always been close and I believe that’s because we needed each other so badly in those early years.  The largest church in Utah today (of that denomination) started in our living room.

Where did you go to school and what did you study there?

I went to Abilene Christian University and after that, to Harding School of Theology in Memphis TN. There I worked on an M.Div with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Counseling, and a D.Min with emphasis on Communications (Homiletics). My dissertation was a “Rhetorical Analysis of the Unpublished Sermons of Peter Marshall.”

What is your family like?

For 44 years, I’ve been married to my best friend, Jan Bell. The last 18 months have been difficult. Within 10 minutes in December of 2014 we were both diagnosed with cancer. After surgery, I was declared “cancer free.” Jan had breast cancer which included all of the surgeries, chemo treatments, radiation, and other treatments. She’s doing very well. We have two children, both married. Both of those families have given us 4 grandkids. If you ever want to see the pics, I have 4.322 pictures of them on my phone. Our son is a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver. Our son in law is a cardiologist here in Tulsa with the Oklahoma Heart Institute. We are a very close family.

What hobbies, activities, or topics do you most like spending time on?

I love landscape design. Thomas Jefferson called it “Living Art.” I also enjoy reading history. I used to play a lot of tennis, but time and health have changed that. Most of all, my wife and I love to travel. I’ve lived in many parts of the world and have traveled around the world at least 6 times. Our children were in 14 countries before they even started school

What is one interesting fact that many people might not know about you?

I was asked to do the public funeral service for Elvis Presley.

What is the most interesting country you have visited or would like to visit? Why?

Zimbabwe. I gave the inauguration speech for the president of a school of ministry in Mutare. I love the beauty and serenity of that country. Of course, things are very different there now and I’m not sure that at the moment, I would want to go back.

If you could go back and meet any one famous historical figure, who would you pick and why?

There are two, one I greatly admire; the other I detest. The one I admire is Quanah Parker. Parker was the greatest of the Comanche chiefs. He was a savage who became a Christian. I say savage because he was so brutal and cruel in his battle against those he called the “whites” who were moving into Comancheria. When he realized that he could not win, he transition his people into US territory. He actually began the Native American Church movement. He said, “The white man goes into his church to talk about Jesus. We go into our tepees to talk to Jesus.”

The other person I’d like to meet is a Christian who became a savage, Pope Alexander VI. I’m fascinated with the Renaissance popes. Alexander VI was the worst of them, by all accounts. I would like to do a psychoanalytic study on him, but only if I could be assured that he would not cut my head off, or worse. Probably more than anyone else, he was responsible for setting the stage for the Reformation.


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