D. Rayford Bell
D. RAYFORD BELL (July 9, 1923 - Sept 29, 2013) was born Dennis Raphael Bell, in Sidon, Leflore County, Mississippi, to Mae Ella Hawkins, and raised by his grandparents, Edmond and Annette Hawkins. In 1942, He married Darlene Griffin and to this union was born two sons, Harvey and Curtis Bell. He served in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 1945. On August 9, 1990, he was preceded in death by his wife, Darlene Griffin Bell. On April 13, 1991, Bell and Jacqueline Collins were united in holy matrimony.
Bishop Bell received the baptism of the Holy Ghost on April 1,1949. Constantly seeking to increase his knowledge, the studious Bible teacher earned a bachelor’s degree from Southwestern College, a Masters of Theology from American Bible College, and doctoral degrees in Theology and Philosophy from Toledo Bible College and Seminary. Through his ministerial career, he founded Christ Temple Apostolic Church in Joliet, Illinois, and Midwest Apostolic Bible College (Now D.R. Bell Apostolic Bible College) in Chicago. He also founded the Samuel Barnes Christian Academy in Chicago, and created the Mother Darlene Bell Scholarship Fund to assist the educational dreams of deserving students. In 1958 he became pastor of Christ Temple Apostolic Church in Chicago where he would serve until the end of his life. He spent a great part of his life serving in other ways including as chaplain for the Chicago Police Department.
A charter member of the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith International (PCAFI), Bell was ordained as an elder at the first national convention in 1958 and steadily rose through the ranks, becoming a district elder in 1961, a bishop in 1964, assistant presiding bishop in 1970, and presiding bishop in 1990. In his role as presider, he was committed to energetic domestic evangelism and worldwide membership recruitment.
On Sunday, September 29, 2013, just ten minutes into his morning sermon at Christ Temple in Chicago, Bell collapsed and died a short time later. It has been said that he stayed on the battlefield and died doing what he loved the most. His strength of character, stalwart leadership, and undying commitment to the Apostolic principles of holiness made him a national treasure to the PCAFI.