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Aveondale faculty, Charles DeVere Bell standing in the back on the right, c. 1920

Photo courtesy of Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

Bell, Charles de Vere (1868–1948)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Charles Bell was a versatile teacher, minister, and director of the Advent Bible School for the Australasian Union Conference.

Charles de Vere Bell, known as Vere, was born on April 24, 1868, in the market town of Uppingham in Rutland County, England, to Thomas and Louisa Margaret (Harding) Bell.1 He migrated to Australia and settled in Queensland where he married twenty-year-old Elizabeth Margaret Orchard in 1900.2

Bell was enrolled in a medical course when he converted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A field appointment in the New South Wales Conference was offered to him in 1905,3 but he preferred to continue his studies. However, the following year, when he was just a few months short of completing his course, church leaders persuaded him to terminate his studies and teach physiology at the Avondale School for Christian Workers.4 Bell had no training as a teacher and was better suited for a career in the fledgling Sydney Sanitarium. His appointment underscored the importance of the college’s health emphasis and the training of nurses in particular for which physiology was an essential subject. Bell was a gifted and versatile man who adapted to the task.

Bell arrived at the Avondale School for the 1907 opening of classes.5 He and his wife were given lodgings in the under-utilized Avondale Health Retreat.6 Towards the end of 1907, he was assigned the added responsibility of managing the struggling health food business on campus,7 which he continued to do until October 1909 when the food factory enterprise was transferred from the school to the medical department of the Australasian Union Conference.8

Bell was a multi-talented teacher. An amateur astronomer, he occasionally taught a unit of astronomy in the science department. During his first year at the Avondale School, he and the science teacher were instrumental in building a ten-inch reflecting telescope situated between the ladies dormitory and the chapel.9 Bell also taught Bible subjects,10 and as an extracurricular subject, the St. John’s Ambulance First Aid Certificate course.11 Some years he served as school librarian as well.12 Between 1917 and 1920, student achievement cards acquired his signature alongside the subject of art, principally blackboard art in the teacher training curriculum.13

Bell became a member of the faculty of the Darling Range School, Western Australia, in 1922.14 He remained throughout 1922 and 192315 and then accepted ministerial duties for two years in the West Australian Conference. He held a ministerial license.16

During the last twelve years of Bell’s working career, from 1926 through early 1938, he directed the Advent Correspondence School located at Australasian Union Conference headquarters in Wahroonga. Students who successfully completed studies from this institution were entitled to use the units as credit towards any course offered by the Australasian Missionary College.17

At eighty years of age, Bell’s eventful and fruitful life came to a close following a short period of heart trouble. He died in the Sydney Sanitarium on May 30, 1948. He was buried in the Avondale Seventh-day Adventist Cemetery, near the institution he served for many productive years.18

Sources

Allbon, Rhae. “College Notes.” Australasian Record, July 10, 1916.

Annual Announcement. Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Press, 1914.

Australasian Missionary College Faculty Minutes, 1919. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales.

Avondale School Board Minutes, 1893-1911. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales.

Bell, C[harles] V. “Across the Continent.” Far and Near, August 1922.

“Charles Vere Bell.” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2019. Accessed December 17, 2019. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/find/name?search=1&birth=England%2CUnitedKingdom%7C1865-1870%7C0&self=charlesvere%7Cbell%7C0%7C0.

Christie Gruber Thomson Diary, 1907. Private diary. Personal collection of Jenny Hill, Cooranbong, New South Wales.

“Distribution of Labour.” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1905.

Hoopes, L[ewis] A. “Opening of the Avondale School, 1907.” Union Conference Record, January 21, 1907.

Machlan, B[enjamin] F. “Avondale School.” Union Conference Record, October 24, 1910.

Rosendahl, E[dward]. “The Advent Correspondence School.” Australasian Record, April 12, 1948.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1923-1938.

Stewart, A[ndrew] G. “Charles Vere Bell.” Australasian Record, June 21, 1948.

Student Achievement Cards. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales. Shelf Records. Folder: Student Achievement Cards. Document: “Student Achievement Cards, 1917-1920.”

The State of Queensland. Marriage Certificates. Queensland Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane, Queensland.

Notes

  1. “Charles Vere Bell,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2019, accessed December 17, 2019, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/find/name?search=1&birth=England%2CUnitedKingdom%7C1865-1870%7C0&self=charlesvere%7Cbell%7C0%7C0.

  2. The State of Queensland, Certificate of Marriage no. C79 (1900), Queensland Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane, Queensland.

  3. “Distribution of Labour,” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1905, 5.

  4. Elizabeth May (Bell) Warden, interview by Milton Hook, Cooranbong, May 7, 1996.

  5. L[ewis] A. Hoopes, “Opening of the Avondale School, 1907,” Union Conference Record, January 21, 1907, 8.

  6. Avondale School Board Minutes, June 18, 1907, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales, box 201, folder: “Avondale School Board Minutes,” document: “Avondale School Board Minutes, 1893-1911.”

  7. Avondale School Board Minutes, September 16, 1907, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales, box 201, folder: “Avondale School Board Minutes,” document: “Avondale School Board Minutes, 1893-1911.”

  8. B[enjamin] F. Machlan, “Avondale School,” Union Conference Record, October 24, 1910, 40-41.

  9. Christie Gruber Thomson Diary, May 7, 1907, private diary, personal collection of Jenny Hill, Cooranbong, New South Wales.

  10. E.g., Annual Announcement (Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Press, 1914), [3].

  11. Rhae Allbon, “College Notes,” Australasian Record, July 10, 1916, 8.

  12. E.g., Australasian Missionary College Faculty Minutes, June 1, 1919. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales, box 203, folder: “Australasian Missionary College Faculty Minutes,” document: “Australasian Missionary College Faculty Minutes, 1919.”

  13. Student Achievement Cards, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Shelf Records, folder: “Student Achievement Cards,” document: “Student Achievement Cards, 1917-1920.”

  14. C[harles] V. Bell, “Across the Continent,” Far and Near, August 1922, 2.

  15. “Darling Range School,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1923), 186.

  16. E.g., “West Australian Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1925), 187.

  17. E[dward] Rosendahl, “The Advent Correspondence School,” Australasian Record, April 12, 1948, 8.

  18. A[ndrew] G. Stewart, “Charles Vere Bell,” Australasian Record, June 21, 1948, 7.

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Hook, Milton. "Bell, Charles de Vere (1868–1948)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6I6U.

Hook, Milton. "Bell, Charles de Vere (1868–1948)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6I6U.

Hook, Milton (2021, April 28). Bell, Charles de Vere (1868–1948). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6I6U.