Rev. Joshua Bell
Who is this guy?
MEET REVEREND JOSHUA BELL
I was asked recently at a forum with four of my student colleagues to give a “brief” description of my biographical information at Phillips Theological Seminary and this is what I told them; “Shortly after the earth’s crust cooled and dinosaurs walked on the proverbial plane of existence there was a Bell, MacEver, or a Curtis standing next to Alexander Campbell as he and his father were contemplating a new movement in the name of God through Jesus Christ!” My family has been involved with the denomination since the beginning or at least they all claim to have been. I do know that I am the fifth generation of my family serving congregations in the movement of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It would suffice to say that it is in my blood and I have had many transfusions along the way to make me question, challenge, and explore what it means to be in ministry.
I started in 1996 in a small, rural, church in Thomas, Oklahoma. I was called there to be their youth director. If I am being honest, I would have to say that I was doing this out of a sense of obligation, and the $45.00 a week I received driving back and forth from Weatherford, Oklahoma. I was going to SWOSU to be a Musician. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I thought that I would go on to Broadway and perform in Musical Theatre. Little did I know what I had in mind and what was presented to me was different than my original goals. I continued to work in congregations specifically focused on Youth Ministry and Christian Education for the next 15 years. The entire time I was working in congregations I was performing and using the income from the performances to support my wife, Carman and me. I used to tell congregations that they didn’t have to worry about the money needed to pay me. My addiction of youth ministry was supported by performing. I loved working with kids and still do actually.
I am an Eagle Scout and a vigil member of the Order of the Arrow and was heavily involved with scouting as well as music in High School by participating in Marching, Jazz and concert Bands as well as being in Choir and Show Choir. When it came time for Joshua to go to college, he went to college on a full music scholarship for Trumpet. Once he was in college he double majored in Voice and Instrumental Music Education. He was in undergraduate school for 8 years earning multiple bachelor’s degrees but only puts one on his wall. His Vocal Performance degree with an emphasis in Sacred Music. He has worked with Disney as a featured dancer as Simba in the Lion King Road Show. He was a semi-finalist for the Metropolitan Opera Competition on the East Coast, he has Won the East coast division of the National Association of Teachers of Singing twice where he competed against hundreds of singers all the way up the East coast. He has sung in numerous opera companies all around the United States. He is most known for his solo work in Mozart’s Requiem, as well as Handel's Messiah, and a Baritone soloist for Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, and he has many other musical credits to his name…. but while he was doing all of that he was working in Churches. He has sung in Don Giovanni, Pagliacci, The Pilgrim, Special soloist for Appalachian Christmas Carols.
He has always had a passion for working with others and loves to be in ministry. He has earned two master’s degrees in ministry from Phillips Theological Seminary. He has Master of Divinity and a Master of Theological Studies with an emphasis in liturgical studies. He is currently working on his Doctor of Ministry with an emphasis on liturgical studies where he hopes to re-write the worship book for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
I told my wife before we were even engaged that I most likely was going to serve congregations probably on the second date. My wife is in a lot of respects one of the greatest minister’s spouses I have ever seen (yes, I am a little biased). She did not grow up in the church and she can see through me in ways that my own flesh and blood cannot. My mother told me when I was little, and probably for different reasons, “I hope you marry someone that will not put up with your nonsense!” Well, I listened to her and married a person that truly can call me to the proverbial mat in times when I desperately need it. She also knows that I care too deeply sometimes for congregants and have a hard time separating my passions from realistic goals. Besides the fact that she is very supportive of my calling, she is phenomenal as a partner as we raise our children together. We are very fortunate to have two of the most beautiful, intelligent, free-spirited, children on the planet. They are six years apart in age, the oldest is Madeline. The second born child is my red-headed, blue-eyed, angel Quinton. I am the oldest of six children and Carman is an only child. The ways that we were raised are completely different and yet we somehow find ways of discussing openly, and actively, in almost all regards of our marriage. Since we have been together I have served:
I have a rather eclectic educational background, to say the least. Here are the schools that I attended and the degrees that I earned from them. SWOSU, Weatherford, Oklahoma (while serving the church in Thomas), SOSU, BA Sacred Music (While I was serving FCC Durant), NWOSU, BM in vocal performance, I also have the equivalent of a Psychology and Sociology degrees with heavy emphasis on early childhood and adolescent development (While I was at CCC Enid,). With all of that Education I only have the one degree on the wall and that is my Bachelors of Music in vocal performance. My transcript is long and crazy looking but I went to the churches that I felt called to and subsequently had to go to the schools I was closest to. In Oklahoma you have to complete 30 hours in that field of study or the equivalent of in order to receive the degrees so in my case I did 30+ hours at each school and by happenstance earning multiple certifications to teach. While I was in Lynchburg and the school system in Appomattox asked me to teach, I took what is called the LC Teach program in order to get re-certified to teach my subjects. It was an 8 week course designed to give me the two-year’s worth of education classes needed to meet the certification requirements. I also had to take the proficiency exams in my areas of expertise to teach in the classroom. Those areas were: k-12 vocal, k-12 instrumental, Theatre arts, Sociology, and for some reason, I was certified as “at-risk student” teacher (it was an experimental program and since I had all the credits needed, they certified me in that as well.)
I have extensive training that was provided by the Appomattox public system in conflict management. It was with the Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution and I was trained in: Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution, Assertive Communication, Organizational Problem Solving, Negotiation, Designing Conflict Management Systems, Leadership Communication Skills: Managing People & Situations, Becoming a Better Listener, Facilitation and Group Consensus-Building, Mediating EEO and Workplace Disputes, Co-Parenting through Divorce, Consultation and Conflict Management System Design. Each of these classes were designed in coordination with the NVC coalition of Virginia. I used this training a lot in the congregational life of churches and even in the school system.
My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and some of my cousins have all served in congregational life for almost 60 years in multiple settings and multiple areas. My own father is a retired Naval Chaplain and within my own existence we never lived anywhere for longer than two to four years. My mother has served as the Chaplain at the Kansas Christian Home and is now currently serving New Hope Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas. It is important to point out that both sets of my grandparents (my mom’s and my dad’s) have served congregations all over the country as well. I truly have been blessed by being exposed to multiple cultures throughout the world and don’t have any bad feelings about moving so much in my childhood. If anything, it taught me how to improvise, adapt, and overcome in any situation that presented itself. There were a lot of times in my past life as a child, and the current one as being an adult, where the tools I learned from watching and listening that have helped me greatly as a minister.
I have grown up in the denomination and have watched, listened, and participated in a great many changes that our denomination has undergone in the past twenty years. I could go into a lot of detail about all of the things that I have participated in but, I need to keep this to three to four pages long. Suffice to say, the denomination is for me one of the best kept secrets in the US. I will talk more about that in the History and Polity section of this paper. My background in the denomination has been very vast and I am hoping that with being ordained I will have the opportunity to be able to serve congregations for many years to come.
Spring of 1996- Spring of 1997: FCC Thomas, Oklahoma (youth director)
Fall of 1997- Spring of 1999: FCC Durant, Oklahoma (youth director)
Fall of 1999-2003: Central Christian Church Enid, Oklahoma (Associate minister of Youth)
Fall of 2003- December 31, 2009: Fairview Christian Church in Lynchburg, Virginia (Associate Minister of youth and Christian Education, Interim Pastor)
Spring of 2007- Spring of 2009: Appomattox Public Schools (6th and 7th grade band, 6th-8th grade chorus, 9th-12th grade chorus, 9th-12th grade Theatre, Assistant High School Band Director, I also taught a class of at-risk students and helped them pass their classes)
2008: Wrote for Disciples World focused on Youth ministry.
January of 2006-August of 2009: Christian Church in Virginia (Associate Regional Minister for Youth and Outdoor ministries and helped with Conflict management with churches)
January 2nd of 2010- 2017: Kingman Christian Church (Senior Minister)
August 17, 2017 - present: First Christian Church of Perry
REV. JOSHUA BELL
First Christian Church of Perry, Oklahoma