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Rev. John Bell joins Wesley United Methodist Church

John Bell Downers Grove native is new head pastor Wesley United Methodist Church Aurora. |  Submitted

John Bell, a Downers Grove native, is the new head pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Aurora. | Submitted

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Updated: August 20, 2013 6:14AM

As a high school junior attending a summer camp near Lake Geneva, John Bell confirmed his career early on: full-time ministry. While Bell grew up knowing that he wanted to work within the church, it wasn’t until this camp experience that he decided to become a pastor.

“That summer I had the opportunity to meet about 12 pastors and their families who came to the camp, and through conversations with them, I came back from camp that fall thinking that I wanted to be a pastor,” Bell said. “After that summer it was clear to me that God was calling me to pastor.”

This decision has led Bell, 44, a Downers Grove native, to Aurora as the head pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church. Bell already has commenced the new appointment with two Sunday messages this month, in which he focused on church life and service to others, and the social responsibilities that accompany the Christian faith.

In general, Bell’s ministry emphasizes the application of biblical principles to daily living.

“My messages focus on everyday life, on people and their relationships … I’m interested in how we relate to each other and what the Bible has to say about that,” Bell said. “There is a lot of blaming and judging that goes on in the world today, which involves fear and anxiety. The church is still a viable place to work on that and to make a difference in the world. That’s why I’m a pastor; I want to help the church make a difference in the world.”

Bell has pastored for 19 years at local churches such as Yorkville Trinity United Methodist, Bartlett Good Shepherd and Cherry Valley. He is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan and Duke Divinity School.

For his time at Wesley, Bell hopes to fulfill the mission of the church community.

“Wesley is a historic church that has a very relevant future,” Bell said. “The mission for the congregation is building an all-inclusive, vibrant community from the heart of Aurora. It’s changing and adapting to meet the needs of the people today, both in the neighborhood around the church, in the greater Aurora community and around the world.”

Bell also stresses the importance of Wesley’s efforts to be a diverse congregation, emphasizing that “all are welcomed into our worship and into our church life.”

For those in the community, and those who have yet to attend a service at Wesley, Bell welcomes all to come.

“Wesley is a church that’s been a part of the community for over 150 years, and because of that, it knows the community, and it knows the people,” Bell said. “It wants to be a place where people can come, just as they are, no matter who they are, who are searching for connections, who are looking for meaning in their life, a better life, and one where they can make a difference for themselves and for others. We want to partner with people in our community who are looking for a better way.”

United Methodist Church is at the corner of May Street and Galena Boulevard in Aurora. Sunday Services are at 9 a.m. (classic worship) and 11 a.m. (contemporary worship).

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