The Rev. B. Clayton Bell, the son of missionary parents who pastored one of the most storied congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), died July 4 at Montreat Conference Center of a massive heart attack.Bell, 67, the son of famed Presbyterian medical missionary L. Nelson Bell and brother-in-law of evangelist Billy Graham, had preached at Montreat the previous Sunday and had remained at the Presbyterian conference center to visit friends and relatives when he was stricken.Clayton Bell was chairman of the board at Christianity Today International, which was founded by Nelson Bell and Billy Graham in 1956. Born in Tsingkiang Kiangsu Province in China on Dec. 11, 1932, Bell spent his first nine years in China until his parents retired in 1941. He graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois in 1954 and from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1958. Bell served pastorates in Camden, Birmingham and Dothan, Ala., and in Rome, Ga., before being called as pastor of Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas in 1973. Serving the Highland Park Church nearly killed Bell in the late 1980s, when a fierce debate over whether to remain in the PCUSA following Presbyterian reunion in 1983, split the church very badly. Bell led the effort to keep Highland Park in the denomination and the stress of the situation contributed to serious heart attack at that time.Highland Park stayed in the PCUSA, but lost several thousand members as a result of that decision. It is now the third largest Presbyterian congregation in America. Bell retired in January.He was also active in Presbyterian renewal movements, and author of Moorings: Anchor for a World Adrift.Clayton Bell is survived by his wife, Peggy, and by four children—Margaret, B. Clayton Jr., ...1
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