Bill, J. Brent 1951–

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Bill, J. Brent 1951–

(John Brent Bill)


Born May 11, 1951, in Columbus, OH; son of John H. (a maintenance supervisor) and JoAnn (a homemaker) Bill; married Sharon Deming, March 6, 1971 (divorced, 1988); married Nancy Elizabeth Pierson Ragan, April 2, 1989; children: John Benjamin, Timothy Alan; stepchildren: Michele Tridle, Laura LaPorte, Lisa Peterson, Christopher Ragan. Education: Chatfield College, A.A., 1977; Wilmington College, Wilmington, OH, A.B. (magna cum laude), 1978; Earlham College, M.A., 1980; also attended Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Young Life's Institute of Youth Ministry, Henry County Academy for Community Leadership, and United Way of America's National Academy of Volunteerism. Politics: Independent.


Home—Mooresville, IN. Office—Earlham School of Religion, 228 College Ave., Richmond, IN 47374. E-mail—[email protected].


Recorded minister of Society of Friends (Quakers), 1980; Young Life of Central Ohio, Columbus, staff representative, 1972-76; United Methodist church in Hillsboro, OH, associate minister, 1976-79; Jericho Friends Meeting in Winchester, IN, pastoral minister, 1979-81; Western Yearly Meeting of Friends, Plainfield, IN, director of Christian education, 1981-88; Earlham School of Religion, Richmond, IN, instructor in religious creative writing, 1987—; the Ministry of Writing (annual colloquium), Richmond, IN, director, 1987—; Friends Memorial Church, Muncie, IN, pastoral minister, 1997-2001. Executive director, United Way of Henry County, IN, 1989-91; staff member, Indiana Association of United Ways, 1991-97; associate director, Indianapolis Center for Congregations. Has served on several committees and in various groups and organizations.


Friends World Committee for Consultation (section of the Americas), Quaker Hill Conference Center Foundation, Indiana Yearly Meeting's Christian Education Committee, Delaware County Ministerial As- sociation (member of executive committee), Friends of Muncie Public Library, Second Harvest Food Bank "Tips for Hunger" Committee.


David B. Updegraff: Quaker Holiness Preacher, Friends United Press (Richmond, IN), 1983.

(Contributor) Arlo Reichter, editor, The Group Retreat Book, Group Books (Loveland, CO), 1983.

Rock and Roll: Proceed with Caution, Fleming Revell (Wheaton, IL), 1984.

Stay Tuned: A Christian Look at TV Land, Fleming Revell (Wheaton, IL), 1985.

The First Day of High School and Other Teenage Nightmares, Fleming Revell (Wheaton, IL), 1986.

Counselor-in-Training Course, Western Yearly Meeting, 1986.

Faith and Practice: A Study Guide, Western Yearly Meeting, 1986.

How to be a Friend in an Unfriendly World, Friends United Press (Richmond, IN), 1987.

Lunch Is My Favorite Subject, Fleming H. Revell (Wheaton, IL), 1987.

(Contributor) The Youth Group Meeting Guide, Group Publishing (Loveland, CO), 1988.

Cruisin' and Choosin', Fleming H. Revell (Wheaton, IL), 1989.

Stuff Your Guidance Counselor Never Told You, Fleming H. Revell (Wheaton, IL), 1990.

(Contributor) The Youth Study Bible, Group Publishing (Loveland, CO), 1991.

(Contributor) Creative Worship Ideas, Group Publishing (Loveland, CO), 1993.

The Secret Junior High Survival Guide, Fleming H. Revell (Wheaton, IL), 1993.

(Contributor) Quaker Lite, The Lite Company (New York, NY), 1998.

Imagination & Spirit: A Contemporary Quaker Reader, Friends United Press (Richmond, IN), 2002.

40 Days and 40 Bytes: Making Computers Work for Your Congregation, Alban Institute (Herndon, VA), 2004.

Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality, Paraclete Press (Brewster, MA), 2005.

Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes, Paraclete Press (Brewster, MA), 2006.

Holy Places: Matching Sacred Space with Mission and Message, Alban Institute (Herndon, VA), 2007.

Author of "Top 40," a monthly column in Group. Contributor to magazines, including Christian Century, Ancient Paths, Aileron, Parenting Today's Teen, Muncie Star Press, Youth Update, Quaker Life, Evangelical Friend, Christianity Today, Fruit of the Vine, and Friends Journal.


Quaker minister J. Brent Bill explores the spirituality of Quakerism in his many works of popular theology. Quakers (or the Religious Society of Friends, the group's official name) began as an offshoot of English Christian spirituality in the seventeenth century. Rejecting the institution of the Anglican Church, Quaker founder George Fox declared that all individuals had the capacity to experience divine revelation through what he called the "Inner Light"—the direct, personal encounter with the Holy Spirit. Many of Bill's works, ranging from Imagination & Spirit: A Contemporary Quaker Reader to Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes, and from Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality to Holy Places: Matching Sacred Space with Mission and Message, examine the history and process of Quaker revelation and help introduce it to new generations as both a spiritual discipline and religious practice.

Metaphors for divine revelation and experience pervade Bill's work, and he offers the Quaker understanding of divine interaction with humanity as a model for spirituality in the twenty-first century—a spirituality that unites people across faiths. Holy Silence is, according to an Internet Bookwatch contributor, an "invitation for readers of all faiths to discover spirituality through the Quaker way." Imagination & Spirit, Merle Harton, Jr., declared in a review posted on the New Quaker Web site, "is a hardy effort to make the Quaker experience accessible to those outside the tradition and to let Friends themselves appreciate the nuances of that experience," while Booklist contributor June Sawyers called the collection "a sampling that graciously introduces Quaker faith to Friends and non-Friends alike." Similarly, wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, Mind the Light is "like a neighborly conversation across a kitchen table," a way to understand the "mundane details of daily life" through the eyes of a believer in the Holy Spirit. Mind the Light, concluded Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat in Spirituality & Practice, is "one of the Best Spiritual Books of the Year."

Bill once told CA: "I got my start writing book reviews for Quaker Life and the Evangelical Friend. The reviews gave me the confidence to move on to articles for other publications, including magazines and newspapers. My first book, David B. Updegraff: QuakerHoliness Preacher, grew out of my master's thesis. My media books, Rock and Roll: Proceed with Caution and Stay Tuned: A Christian Look at TV Land, came from the conviction that there is nothing inherently wrong with those forms of entertainment—rather, it's what we do with them. I then wrote four books of light humor for high schoolers.

"I feel that writing is a way to discover what we believe about faith and the world. To that end, I teach courses at Earlham School of Religion (a Quaker seminary) in writing as a form of public ministry. I am now concentrating on writing fiction—both novel length and short story."



Booklist, April 1, 2003, June Sawyers, review of Imagination & Spirit: A Contemporary Quaker Reader, p. 1358.

Internet Bookwatch, October, 2006, "Holy Silence."

Library Journal, March 1, 2003, Graham Christian, review of Imagination & Spirit, p. 96; October 1, 2006, Graham Christian, review of Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes, p. 783.

Publishers Weekly, March 17, 2003, review of Imagination & Spirit, p. 72; June 12, 2006, review of Mind the Light, p. 48.


J. Brent Bill Home Page, (November 19, 2007).

New Quaker, (November 19, 2007), Merle Harton, Jr., review of Imagination & Spirit.

Spirituality & Practice, (November 19, 2007), Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, review of Mind the Light.