Rev. Earl H. Bell, 83

Reverend Earl H. Bell, 83, of Medina, N.Y., passed away on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, at his home, with his loving family at his side.

Born on Nov. 7, 1929 in Niagara Falls, N.Y., he was the son of the late Ira and Edna (Brown) Bell.

Reverend Bell was called into the ministry during his high school years while attending the St. James Methodist Church of Niagara Falls and began his secondary education at Houghton College, graduating in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree. Three months later, he married his college sweetheart, Marilyn Anne Engstrom, and they remained inseparable for over 61 years. They began their married life while he attended Asbury Theological Seminary earning a master of divinity degree in 1955. After seminary, they returned to New York state and was ordained by the Methodist Church. He first served at the Friendship Methodist Church followed by the Cuba and Hinsdale Methodist Churches.

In 1963, Rev. Bell was called to Trinity Methodist Church in Olean, ministering for six years, followed by three years in Albion Methodist Church and six years in Faith United Methodist Church in Barker. In 1978, he started his six-year ministry in the Medina United Methodist Church until transferring to the Maine United Methodist Conference. In Maine, they converted their summer cottage into a year-round residence and served at Deering Memorial United Methodist Church in South Paris, until retiring in 1991. In 1997, Rev. Bell returned to the ministry as an interim pastor for one year at the West Baldwin United Methodist Church. In 2000, he began seven years of pastoring at the Sweden Community Church (UCC). During his ministry in Sweden, he also ministered at the West Bethel Union Church (UCC) in West Bethel, and returned to live in Medina in 2007.

Rev. Bell’s 50 years in the ministry were people centered years, as he always took great personal interest in the lives of his congregation and his local community. He continuously went out of his way making all who attended church services and church functions to feel welcome, appreciated and loved by God. He visited and prayed with all of his hospitalized parishioners and was committed to supporting families as they dedicated their children to the Lord during infant baptism. He rejoiced with couples as they were joined together in marriage and grieved with families during their times of loss.

His personal style of ministry was to be fully engaged, such as participating in all church committees, functions and building projects, and he would often be one of the first to pick up a hammer or a paintbrush. He enjoyed cooking and he personally prepared countless church and local community dinners. Hymn singing and telling the stories behind the writing of the hymns was a favorite. Rev. Bell also served on several United Methodist conference finance and missions committees.

While ministering, he also participated in local community groups such as Rotary Club, Lion’s Club, Boy Scouts and several ecumenical church associations. He enjoyed sailing, cooking, collecting cookbooks, and he compiled a cookbook from recipes submitted from his 11 churches. His contagious sense of humor will always be remembered, as he routinely joked with all he came in contact with.

Rev. Bell is survived by his wife, Marilyn of Medina, N.Y.; their three children, David of Greenland, N.H., Lois of Medina, N.Y. and Paul of Lewiston; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; his sister, Lyn Leary Stark of Manitowoc, WI.

He was predeceased by his twin brother, Alan.

Visitation was held on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Medina United Methodist Church, where a memorial service was held. A luncheon followed the memorial service. A graveside committal service was held at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Salt Works Road, Shelby.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Rev. Bell’s name to the building fund of Medina United Methodist Church, 222 West Center St., Medina, NY 14103.

Arrangements were made through the Bates & Tuttle Funeral Home, 226 Pearl Street, Medina, N.Y.

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