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A Tribute to Dr. Bruce Shelley

March 02, 2010

Dr. Bruce Shelley, a Columbia International University alumnus who went on to serve for 50 years as a professor at Denver Seminary, passed away on Feb. 20. He was 82 years old. Shelley graduated from CIU in 1954, and was named CIU Alumnus of the Year in 1987. He was probably best known by his students for his passion for church history. One of those students was CIU professor of Old Testament, Dr. Bryan Beyer. He offers this trubute:

The Lord called Dr. Bruce Shelley, professor of church history at Denver Seminary, home on Feb. 20, 2010. His passing has occasioned some personal reflection on earlier days when the Lord brought our paths together. I've found it helpful to take some time to ponder the legacy of a man who profoundly shaped my life.

I first met Dr. Shelley in September 1976 -- my first term at Denver Seminary. Dr. Shelley taught my church history course, and we all immediately discovered his passion for his subject. He loved church history and wanted us to love it, too!

Dr. Shelley also loved students. I remember that when our son Matt was born during my second term, Yvonne and I received a congratulatory card from Dr. and Mrs. Shelley. They said they were praying that our firstborn would be as great a blessing to us as their firstborn was to them! That really meant a lot.

Dr. Shelley's "Writing for Christian Publications" course shaped my life in ways I did not comprehend at the time. Our little group of eight "writer wannabes" met with Dr. Shelley twice a week. He cheered our work, shredded our work, helped us develop thick skins (he said that was important for writers), and pushed us to strive for excellence. The article I wrote for his course was accepted for publication by His, an Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship publication, and when I told Dr. Shelley, he was as excited as I was! I had no idea publishing would prove as much a part of my ministry as it has, but I owe a great debt to my mentor.

Only after I began teaching at CIU did I discover that my beloved church history and writing prof was a CIU alum! I now see that even during those early seminary days, the Lord was already preparing me to teach here through Dr. Shelley -- a CIU alumnus who modeled what it means to know Christ and to make Him known.