Longtime elder Bill Bodine, 96, dies

VAN BUREN, Ark.-Bill Bodine, 96, of Van Buren, longtime and widely known elder in the Sabbath-keeping community, died here Sept. 25.

Born Dec. 4, 1900, in Van Buren, Mr. Bodine was a carpenter as well as an elder in the Church of God (Seventh Day). He was ordained in 1929 or 1930.

By 1933 several elders in the Church of God (Seventh Day) decided that the church was not organized along biblical lines as given in the book of Acts.

They wanted to implement a scriptural organization of 12 men to look after the spiritual affairs of the church and seven to take charge of the finances, along with 70 to go forth two by two with the gospel message.

The time and place to do this work was set for Nov. 4, 1933, at Salem, W.Va. Weeks before this, a call was sent out worldwide for prayer that God would choose men to lead His church as in the former times.

One hundred forty names were put into a box, and a man was chosen to draw the names. The names of the 12 were drawn first, and then, after another short prayer, the names of the 70 were drawn one by one. Elder William Bodine of Arkansas was No. 5.

Others chosen were Elder Herbert W. Armstrong of Oregon and Mr. Bodine's brother, Elder Albert Bodine of Arkansas. Finally the names of the seven were drawn to place over the church's business affairs.

A full account of this meeting was reported in the Nov. 6, 1933, issue of The Bible Advocate, published that month at Salem.

"Not all the men chosen were present for the meeting," said Frank Brown of Clarksville, Ark., editor of Search the Scriptures newsletter. "I do not know, for example, if either Herbert W. Armstrong or Bill Bodine were actually there or if they ever met. Bill was, however, aware of Armstrong's work."

In 1935 Mr. Bodine affiliated with sacred-names groups and remained affiliated with them from that time until his death.

He built a church building north of Van Buren and held services there for many years, proclaiming end-time prophetic events, mainly from the books of Daniel and Revelation.

"He also witnessed to untold numbers of people with whom he came in contact," said Mr. Brown, "including people for whom he built houses. Many conversions resulted from his untiring efforts."

He loved to go to Sabbath services but had been unable to preach for the last few years and was confined to a wheelchair after falling and breaking some bones.

However, he continued to perform special music with his ever-present harmonicas as recently as a month before he died.

"When an old person dies, it is like a library burning down, what with all the information they take to the grave," said Mr. Brown.

"In Elder Bill's case, it was a big, big library. He will be sorely missed. We look forward to seeing him again in the resurrection."

Mr. Brown's Search the Scriptures newsletter is available from P.O. Box 32, Clarksville, Ark. 72830, and

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