University of Southern California Spotlights Former Adventist Pastor Ryan Bell’s Work as Humanist Chaplain
3 October 2018 | The University of Southern California has profiled former Adventist Pastor, Ryan Bell, in his role as humanist chaplain at the institution. USC News describes Bell as a “former Seventh-day Adventist pastor turned atheist… here to help secular students on their spiritual journeys.”
Bell “does the same things a Christian or Buddhist chaplain might do. He’ll talk about life’s big questions — choosing what to do with your life, working through grief or how to mend a relationship,” says the article, noting that the former pastor’s role is a voluntary one while his official job involves, “overseeing secular student organizing at universities across the United States for the Secular Student Alliance.”
The humanist chaplain who has been in the position since last year, said that he aims to, “make myself available to any student who might have existential questions that doesn’t want to approach those questions via religion, or students who have doubts about their faith and are unsure who to process those with.”
Bell took over the role from former evangelical Bart Campolo (son of well-known evangelical pastor, Tony Campolo) who served as humanist chaplain at USC from 2014 to 2017.
For 19 years Ryan Bell was an Adventist pastor. In March 2013 he resigned his position due to theological and practical differences. In January 2014, Bell began a yearlong journey exploring the limits of theism as well as the atheist landscape in the United States, an experiment known as Year Without God, also the name of his well-publicized blog. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.