The Rev. Patrick W. Bell, rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church since 2002, was recently elected bishop of the Eastern Oregon Diocese of the Episcopal Church. In an election process often involving multiple ballots in dioceses elsewhere, Bell was elected on the first ballot.
Bell was born and raised on the northern tip of the Palouse where his family was involved in farming. He went to Whitworth University, majoring in philosophy, and then became a pastor and college professor within a Pentecostal Church. After 10 years, he returned to the Episcopal Church, in which he was raised. He then worked for eight years in the wood products industry with a partner and built a small business into several very prosperous companies, after which he entered an Episcopal seminary, was ordained, and began a new career as an Episcopal priest in Ontario, Ore. He came to St. Luke’s in 2002 where he will continue as rector until his term as bishop begins in April 2016 which is when he will be consecrated. Bell intends to continue to live in Coeur d’Alene, where his wife is employed, and commute to eastern Oregon since the position as bishop there is part-time.
“I am of course honored by the confidence the people have placed in me by this election, and I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to work once again within this diocese,” Bell said.
The announcement of Bell’s selection was made by The Rt. Reverend James Waggoner, bishop of the Diocese of Spokane. Waggoner, who served as guest officiant at St. Luke’s on Dec. 13, said the search for a bishop is a long and arduous process designed to find the right person for the right diocese, which clearly occurred in Eastern Oregon. Waggoner praised Bell for his long service to St. Luke’s and to the Episcopal Church. The bishop’s appearance in Coeur d’Alene had been scheduled months prior to Saturday’s election in Pendleton and so his announcement of Bell’s selection was a happy coincidence. Also coincidental is Waggoner’s retirement as bishop of Spokane during the time frame Bell will begin his tenure in Oregon.
Bell is married to TinaMarie Bell, also of Coeur d’Alene, and they have five children and eight grandchildren. In addition to his interests in theology and the church, he enjoys bicycles, motorcycles, hiking, and model railroading.
Bell will be the seventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon, which comprises 22 parishes and 2,600 Episopalians. The Diocesan headquarters are located at Ascension School Camp and Conference Center, in Cove, Ore. There are 30 ordained priests and seven Diocesan staff members. The diocese has several special ministries including its Environmental Justice Commission, the Eastern Oregon Cursillo Community, and Ascension School Camp. It has an annual operating budget of nearly $500,000.