Back in 1995, the Rev. Dr. James Murphy Bell, Sr., a graduate of Erskine College as well as Erskine Theological Seminary, and his wife Lois Alexander Bell, a graduate of Erskine College, created a charitable remainder trust, generously designating Erskine College as trustee.
Dr. James Bell served as an ordained ARP minister for more than 50 years with Lois Bell at his side. His congregations included the Sandy Plains (N.C.), Tirzah (S.C.), Old Providence (Va.) and Due West (S.C.) ARP churches. Erskine honored him with a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1979.
Since establishing the trust, both husband and wife, known for their faithful work in the ARP Church, have died, James Bell in 2011 and Lois Bell in 2016.
Erskine is the grateful beneficiary of the Bells’ trust, divided equally among four established scholarship funds, all of which will assist with the education of ministers for the denomination the Bells loved and served.
The scholarship agreement for each of the four funds includes descriptions of Bell family members and others honored by the scholarships.
The Mr. and Mrs. J. Wilson Alexander Seminary Scholarship Fund was established by Lois Bell in memory of her parents, “diligent, dedicated Christians and wonderful parents.” Her father was a farmer and businessman who served on the Mecklenburg County (N.C.) school board, as a county commissioner, and later as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Her mother, Daisy Rogers Alexander, was a Linwood College graduate who came to the Cornelius, N.C. community to teach in a two-room school and there met and married her husband.
The Karen Graves Bell Memorial Seminary Scholarship Fund was established by Erskine College and Erskine Theological Seminary graduate Dr. Robert Bell, one of the six children of James and Lois Bell and a member of the Erskine Theological Seminary faculty for more than 20 years. The scholarship honors the memory of his first wife, who was an Erskine College staff member at the time of her death in 2008. Karen Bell “sought to reflect the image of Christ in all that she did, and it is for this that she is remembered.”
The Rev. and Mrs. Robert Murphy Bell Seminary Scholarship Fund was established by Lois Bell in memory of her husband’s parents. Robert Murphy Bell, her husband’s father, was a 1921 graduate of Erskine College and also a graduate of Erskine Seminary. An ARP minister, he was “known to be a faithful pastor and was effective in winning souls to Christ.” His wife, Elinor Ann Henry, was also an Erskine College graduate and in addition to her work as a mother and teacher, she served for many years as treasurer of the Women’s Synodical Union.
The J. Alvin Orr Seminary Scholarship Fund was established in memory of a minister in the United Presbyterian Church who came to Due West following 38 years of pastoral work and taught Bible at Erskine College and church history and pastoral theology at Erskine Seminary. Described as “passionate for his students to be men of God,” he possessed “a great zeal for the salvation of souls” and was “masterful in pulpit preaching.”