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George Kennedy Allen Bell Edit Profile

bishop , ecumenicist

George Bell was an anglican bishop of Chichester, outstanding ecumenicist, and leading British churchman during World War II.


George Bell was born on February 4, 1883 in Hayling Island, England. Son of James Allen and Sarah Georgina (Megaw) Bell.


Bell was elected as a Queen's Scholar at Westminster School in 1896. From there he was elected to a scholarship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained a First in Classical Moderations in 1903 and a Second in Literae Humaniores ('Greats') in 1905. He won the Newdigate Prize for English verse in 1904 for his poem, 'Delphi'. After Oxford he attended Wells Theological College (first being influenced by ecumenism at the latter) and was ordained deacon at Ripon Cathedral in 1907. He went on to work as a curate for three years in the industrial slums of Leeds. His role there was the Christian mission to industrial workers, a third of whom were Indians and Africans from the British Empire. During his time there he learned much from the Methodists, whose connection between personal creed and social engagement he saw as an example to the Church of England.

In 1910 Bell returned to Christ Church, Oxford, as a student minister and as lecturer in Classics and English, 1910-14, he was a Student (Fellow), 1911-14. Here too he was socially engaged, as one of the founders of a cooperative for students and university members and sitting on the board of settlements and worker-development through the Workers' Educational Association (WEA).


Bell was curate of Leeds (Yorkshire) parish church from 1907 to 1910. In 1914 he ceased studies at Christ Church and became chaplain to Archbishop Randall Davidson. He was made dean of Canterbury Cathedral in 1924 and bishop of Chichester in 1929. After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Bell secured asylum in England for Jews and non-Aryan Christians fleeing from the Nazi regime. From 1929 to 1939 he was prominent in movements seeking church reunion, and he developed close relations with the German Confessing Church, which opposed Hitler’s regime. During World War II, Bell was an outspoken critic of saturation bombing.

After the war Bell traveled widely on behalf of the ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches, which he served as chairman and president. He expressed his views in the House of Lords on numerous issues, including his opposition to Britain’s decision to make nuclear weapons. Among his works are Randall Davidson (1935), Christian Unity, The Anglican Position (1948), and four volumes of Documents on Christian Unity.


Member Council Foreign Relations (chairman Church of England), World Council Churches (chairman central committee). Clubs: Athenaeum (London).


Married Henrietta Millicent Grace Livingstone, January 8, 1918.

James Allen Bell

Sarah Georgina (Megaw) Bell

Henrietta Millicent Grace Livingstone