Remembering Calvin Burrell

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Editor’s note: Calvin Burrell’s passing on June 29 occurred days before we began editing this issue. Below is his full memorial and just a fraction of the responses that have poured into our offices from all over the world, as well as postings on Facebook.

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Calvin A. Burrell

Calvin Archie Burrell peacefully passed from this life on June 29 at 9:30 p.m., surrounded by his family.

Calvin was born June 22, 1943, in Major County, Oklahoma, to his proud parents Lawrence and Lottie Burrell. He was the youngest boy in a sibling set of four, with two older brothers and one younger sister. Calvin showed his precociousness early. At age four, he began attending the one-room schoolhouse, at the age of four, where his momma mother taught. He grew up the son of a farmer, so the love of the outdoors came naturally to him.

Calvin also had a passion for baseball. If you visit the old farmstead, you can see the dents in the side of the metal barn where he spent hours hitting baseballs. He remembered those early days with fondness, commenting how patient his dad was to allow him to mess up the barn.

One of the family’s favorite stories from Calvin’s childhood is the day the family went into town to get ice cream. This was a huge treat, and all looked forward to it. In his excitement, he lost self-control when he saw a car with a woman driving and a man in the passenger’s seat. He leaned out the window and hollered, “What’s the matter, lady? Can’t your hubby drive?!” Poor Calvin learned a life lesson that day, as he was promptly put out of the car and told to sit on the sidewalk while the rest of the family continued to ice cream.

Calvin graduated high school at age 16 and went on to college. He earned his bachelor’s in teaching from Northwest Teachers College and a master of divinity from Southern Nazarene. Education was important to him, and he loved teaching and preaching.

Calvin met Barbara Mann while at Spring Vale Academy, where he was a teacher, and she was a student. As always, Calvin was a man of integrity and kept his interest in her completely professional and to himself until he asked her to go on a date the night of her graduation. A year later, they were married in the same place they met. That was fifty-six years ago, and their love never wavered, but only grew stronger. Calvin always treated Barb with respect, kindness, and love. A couple of weeks before he passed, Calvin summed up in one sentence his adoration of Barb: “Ten minutes without you feels like a lifetime.”

Calvin’s three girls — Debra, Darla, and Donna — were his pride and joy. He loved to keep a list of all the other families he met that had three girls, just as he had. He was a devoted father who balanced his work, ministry, and family life. No matter how busy he was, he was home for family dinner by 5:30 each night. The Burrell children also grew up with the tradition of Friday family night filled with games, Bible study, and worship.

Every Sabbath after church the Burrell house was filled with people for lunch, which usually lasted into the evening. While living in Denver, they often expanded their family by having students live with them while they attended Summit School of Theology. They became part of the extended family and were loved by the whole family.

Calvin had the ability to leave any stress, anxiety, or conflict at the office. The family never heard him complain or vent about his day. He came home each day with a smile and was fully present. He was that way to the end — always positive, encouraging, and optimistic.

Calvin eventually got his boys — Craig, Sean, and Todd — when his daughters married, and he loved them as his own. He was proud of each one. Then came the grandkids, and he became “Papa.” Calvin had nineteen grandkids (two married into the family, and he eagerly claimed them), and four great-grandchildren.

Calvin was an active papa — getting down on the floor to play with them, taking them for hikes, teaching them to hit and catch a ball, teaching them to play ukulele — he was up for pretty much anything. The family recently found a video from about five years ago where Calvin was doing a flip on monkey bars. Ouch!

Recently, a few of the grandkids were talking about their favorite thing about papa. They said, “He was active and did things with us. He didn’t just sit around like some old people.” That was their papa: He seized each moment to make memories, and lots of them.

Calvin worked at making everyone feel special and uniquely loved. Family was important to him, and he made that apparent in many ways. One way was his planning and funding of biannual family reunions. These were special times in which the family all came together under one (or sometimes two) roofs and celebrated life.

Calvin accomplished much in his 79 years. He loved to travel and did so often. He traveled extensively in the United States but also visited many other countries. Most of his traveling was for ministry, but the occasional “vacation” always included visiting and encouraging friends and churches.

Calvin was a passionate mountain climber and enjoyed sharing that with others. He climbed all fifty-four peaks that are over fourteen thousand feet in Colorado — many of them several times. He also climbed multiple mountains outside of Colorado, including Popocatepetl outside of Mexico City and Mount Hood when he was 68.

Calvin’s love for music was evident. It was not uncommon to find him sitting at the piano playing and singing hymns. He also taught some of his grandchildren to play his beloved ukulele and sang and played with them for Sabbath services. Calvin and Barb often sang duets as he played the ukulele. Growing up, every Sabbath morning we were awakened by worship music playing on the stereo. These are sweet memories.

Calvin’s ministry and career accomplishments are long. He was a teacher and principal at Spring Vale Academy; a minister for churches in Fort Smith, Arkansas; Shawnee, Oklahoma; Denver, Colorado; and Houston, Texas. He was a teacher for Summit School of Theology, LifeSpring, and Artios Christian College. He was editor of the Bible Advocate magazine, Missions Abroad director, president of the International Ministerial Congress, and president of the General Conference Church of God (Seventh Day).

Calvin was a published author, served on countless boards and advisory committees, and did so much more. Along with Barb, he also volunteered as a victim’s advocate for Adams County Sheriff’s Department in Colorado It was not uncommon for them to be called out in the middle of the night to care for someone who had just gone through the worst experience of their life.

Most recently, in the last six years, Calvin played “errand boy” several times a week, driving to local grocery stores to pick up food to be delivered to the local Stayton, Oregon food bank. He also was happy when asked to do manual labor and loved the chance to drag tree limbs to burn piles and do yard work. Calvin was never too important or too busy to help those in need.

Calvin loved people well and cared about everyone equally — from the least of these to the greatest. He asked good questions and was a great listener. He was a man of integrity, a rare commodity. Calvin lived what he spoke. His desire and ambition were to emulate Jesus, who always walked and spoke truth yet lived and demonstrated grace. Calvin never wanted attention drawn to himself, but rather strived to exalt Jesus. He knew he was a sinner in need of a Savior, and he was fully in love with Jesus. On the day he passed, probably the last sentence he was able to utter, he mustered up the strength to give Barb a final bear hug. As he did, he smiled and proclaimed, “Today is going to be a great day!”

Calvin was right. The next thing he knows, he will be rejoicing with His Lord and Savior.

He was preceded in death by his dad and mom, Lawrence and Lottie Burrell, and leaves behind his loving wife Barbara, his brothers Bryan Burrell, David Burrell, his sister, Mary Helen McClendon, and his children and grandchildren, Craig, Debra, Danielle, Josiah, and Calvin Hawkins; Sean, Darla, Jadon, Jace, Paige, Paityn, Kade, Nate, Chael, and Laila Mills; Todd, Donna, Alexa, Ava, Isaiah, and Elijah Larson; Cody, Faith, Braxton, and Shawn Degraffenreed; and Martin, Makaela, Liberty, and baby boy Salinas.

 

 

A few responses from around the world…

 

We have learnt with great shock the heart-rending news about the demise of elder Calvin Burrell. What a devastating blow to the Church of God (Seventh Day)! The church in Malawi is in a state of shock and sorrow. We have lost a veritable soldier in the army of Lord Jesus.

We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the Burrell family, the Church of God in the US, and the entire family of the Church of God (Seventh Day) throughout the world.

We will miss brother Burrell’s leadership. He is gone, but his message and the Lord Jesus Christ whom he irrevocably stood for still live on in our hearts. We prayerfully hope to meet our beloved brother in the resurrection morning.

May his soul rest in peace.

Nehemiah A.A. Tembo

Malawi, Africa

 

With a great shock I received the sad news of a sudden death of Elder Calvin Burrell, . . . on the evening of 30th June, 2022, although the Scriptures have consoled us believers a lot, like in Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”; Revelation 14:13: “’Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’”

Truly, I am one of the beneficiaries of his spiritual services in the Lord’s vineyard . . . CoG7 from early 74 till date. I am praying and am assured he will be among the servants whom the Lord shall reward during His glorious appearing to establish His kingdom on earth. Amen.

To the CoG7 family in general, I am praying God to replace the similar servant to fill the vacuum his departure has created so far.

Finally, to his immediate family, I am praying that our heavenly Father, who from the ancient has been the father of fatherless, a defender of widows, grant them all the fortitudes to bear this temporary loss. Hoping that one day the words of consolations from 1 Thess. 4:13-18 shall fulfill to them and their late father too.

Let them continue in the “FAITH OF THIER FATHERS” and be true till their end. For in Jesus mighty name, I pray Amen!

Pastor A. A. Johnson

Nigeria

 

Late last week I learnt of the passing of Pastor Calvin Burrell. My sincere condolences to his immediate and Church family. God bless his soul.

Rashayne Harris

Jamaica

 

Brother Calvin Burrell was president of ID7D of the USA and Canada in the nineties of the twentieth century, being the initial interlocutor of the Church of Portugal, when at that time the ties of brotherhood, started sporadically in the 50’s, restart.

In addition to being President of the Church, brother Calvin was Editor-in-Chief of the Bible Advocate magazine and Vice President of the IMC.

Brother Calvin Burrell was president of ID7D of the USA and Canada in the nineties of the twentieth century, being the initial interlocutor of the Church of Portugal, when at that time the ties of brotherhood, started sporadically in the 50’s, restart.

In addition to being President of the Church, brother Calvin was Editor-in-Chief of the Bible Advocate magazine and Vice President of the IMC.

In the magazine Compreender nº 30 of the Church of God (Seventh Day) of Portugal, published about 15 years ago and still in full use in the evangelization of the Church, brother Calvin Burrell wrote the article “My Journey,” ending with this text: “I have spent the rest of my life trying to grow up and be the man God wants me to be, and I hope I’ve made some progress since those teenage years. Still, the most important truth of the Scripture is that Jesus loves us, and God’s grace is still sufficient for us!”

Certainly, brother Calvin! In this faith we fill the sadness of this momentary departure, until one day we meet in the glory of God!

Paulo Jorge Coelho, President

Church of God Seventh (Day) of Portugal

 

Condolences to you and other saints there, especially to Calvin’s family. The brethren here and across Africa are really grieving. Calvin was loved beyond what he could ever imagine. Blessings to you and your family.

Robert Crawford

UK President

 

The Artios Family mourns the loss of Elder Calvin Burrell, who entered rest in Jesus on June 29, 2022.

Calvin was a lifelong leader in the Church of God (Seventh Day) and served in nearly every post possible during his decades of ministry. This included leading the predecessor of Artios Christian College, Ministries Training System. He was the epitome of a Christian leader. He carried out every task with divine wisdom and grace. For a man so accomplished and lauded, he never lost a sincere and deep humility about himself, always deflecting praise to God and others. He had a way of immediately impacting the lives of everyone he interacted with. He was succinct and thorough in all he said and wrote. When he preached, he was filled with infectious passion for God and His Word. When he taught, he always built students up but challenged them to their very core to learn and grow as much as possible. His presence and service will be sorely missed in the Church. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and our gratitude for his wonderful ministry.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

The Artios Team

 

My condolences to the family of this great servant of the Lord.

Alexander Nnaedozie

Nigeria

 

Words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel for you and your family. May God give you comfort, may he wrap His arms around you and give you peace and hope. May He fill you with strength to go on. Pastor Burrell has “fought a good fight, he has finished his course and has kept the faith. Henceforth is laid up for him a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give to him.” The Lord bless you all.

Beverly Ricketts

Georgia

 

My heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and members of the General conference CoG. A great servant of the most high, I once met him in Kenya, and he’s the kind of person you would love to listen to, especially on the matters of faith. May he rest in peace.

Paul Muraya

Kenya

 

Sincere condolences to the family. Giving God praise in thanksgiving for the person, life, and ministry that is Elder Calvin Burrell, precious to us all and to the Lord Jesus Christ. He blessed us in so many ways. Thank you, family, for sharing him with us all. A man well loved and will be greatly missed.

Chip Hinds

Oklahoma

 

My condolences to the family. May God’s Spirit comfort you all. Until we meet again, Brother Burrell, the best is yet to come.

Karen Avalos

Illinois

 

Great loss, but resurrection of the saints gives us hope of the coming great reunion of God’s people! Our condolences to the bereaved family, friends, and associates.

George Owato

Migori, Kenya

 

On behalf of Twigs Ministry-WCCOG 7th Day St Croix, we extend our love, condolences, and prayers to the family and the extended church families!

Julie Rhymer

St Croix

 

Rest In Peace, servant of God. Our deepest condolences from Galena Park, Texas where Elder Calvin pastored for many years.

David Vazquez

Texas

 

Heartfelt condolences to the immediate family and the church family on the passing of Pastor Calvin Burrell. His passing is a loss to the international family we call the Church of God (Seventh Day). His contribution and impact on individuals and institutions will live on. I am personally grateful to God for having allowed me to meet and work with Elder Burrell. May the God comfort all of us who mourn.

Henry Harley

Jamaica

 

Condolences to Barb and the family on the passing of Elder Calvin Burrell. May his soul Rest In Peace. We anticipate reuniting with him at the second coming of Christ when death will be totally obliterated. But now we wait in great expectation of that day.

He is sorely missed. A truly humble servant who ran the race well has finished the course and kept the faith. Sleep well, our brother.

Samuel Holland

Ontario, Canada

 

Condolences to the Burrell family and the entire COG7 membership and BA readers and followers. Elder Burrell was a special gift to this generation to restore us back to Scripture. His timeless Question and Answer column was inter-weaving scriptures in rare manner to answer every question biblically and honestly.

Tshidzanani T. Malaba

Zimbabwe

 

On behalf of the Light of Truth Church of God 7th Day in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I extend sincerest condolences to the families, friends, and church families on the passing of a great ambassador for Christ. May our heavenly Father grant to you the comfort and strength during this difficult moment.

Our prayers are with you.

Ezra Ledger

 

I believe his love touched multiple generations. Thank you for your service.

Marie Cecilia Romero Baker

Australia

 

I didn’t get to spend long enough time with him but with what was granted time in his visits here in the Philippines. I speak for the hearts of my family, the Pepito family, and the whole District 4 church when I say he was a great man and he will remain as such in our hearts and memories.

For me, he served as a symbol or the bridge that connected all brethren in Christ and in faith, in doing God’s work. Personally, he opened the door for me to really get to know the big world of CoG7.

My heart feels sad but my spirit rejoices at the rewards that lay in wait for my “Kuya” (older brother) Calvin Burrell. My prayers and love to the bereaved family of Kuya Calvin; one of the great few.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die”(John 11:25, 26, NIV).

Marc Bombeo

Philippines

 

Your mission in this world is done, and thank everything for the word of God (1 Corinthians 13). For you share it to me that until now I do and keep it. Well done, Pastor Calvin Burrell. Thank you so much.

Wenchill Sausa

Philippines

 

My sincere condolence to Pastor Burrell family. From my young age, I used to read his spiritual article newspaper through my late uncle, Pastor Michael Odongo Wanda, South (Nyanza, Kenya).

George Odima

Kenya

 

Prayers for the family. God has you in His keeping. Elder Calvin Burrell . . . you have imparted a great inspiration in me through your articles in the BA that added to my insights about the Lord. . . .

Di Na

Philippines

 

I will remember him climbing one of our mountains here in my state, Tlaxcala, México. My condolences to his family. God bless them all.

Daniel Morale

Perez, Mexico

 

We will see him at the river, when our Lord comes again.

Dina Nofer

Guatemala

 

BA won’t be complete without his contributions and views. May God grant his gentle soul peaceful rest.

Peter Chukwuemeka Chisom

Nigeria

 

To me, Calvin represents all that is good in our church.

Lori Bogle

Maryland

 

He was a great mentor and friend to many. Praying for the family.

Wanda O’Banion Taylor

Denver

 

Our prayers and condolences to the bereaved family, from your brethren in the Philippines.

Jacquiline Cabeguin-Pepito

 

Absolutely! Christ’s love just shined in his face!

Kaye Mercado

California

 

We are brethren from Kenya. We are saying rest in peace, we will miss you.

Maggy Ketete

 

Brother Calvin will be missed. I will always remember his gentle way, his gentle smile, and his encouraging words. I pray that Gods peace that surpasses all understanding will comfort his family in this time.

Ora Miller

Missouri

 

I’ll never forget a sermon he gave when I was a student at Spring Vale. His message was literally the Word of God as he quoted from memory three whole chapters in his signature story-telling delivery. It brought the Word to life and impacted the souls who heard.

A tremendous example to me and inspiration to all who aspire to walk wisely on our paths. A kind and humble man who will leave a void and a heritage. All the best to the family and peace beyond understanding.

Tracy Kendrick

Michigan

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