Reflections on the Life and Legacy of Arlo Newell
By Carl Stagner
The late pastor and CBH speaker Dale Oldham published a book in 1973 titled Giants Along My Path. Many in the Church of God have since used the terminology to describe, as Oldham did, those who have profoundly shaped, influenced, and inspired their lives and ministries. On Monday, October 1, 2018, the Church of God movement learned that Dr. Arlo Newell had passed away. While heaven gained a hero, we lost one of our giants. A comprehensive list of his accomplishments would certainly fill volumes; a summary of his contributions to the Movement he loved would be inadequate. Yet in the lingering shadow of such a giant, it would be nearly impossible not to offer a few reflections now on the life and legacy of Arlo Newell.
Jim Lyon, general director for Church of God Ministries, points out that “few have loved the Movement more, few have had greater reach than he.” The hundreds of comments and shares, on Facebook post where daughter Samme first broke the sad news, underscore this truth. Considering Arlo’s role as longtime editor-and-chief for Warner Press; his local pastorates in Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri, and Ohio; his sought-after status as speaker for numerous national and international conventions, camp meetings, and conferences; his honorary doctorates from Gulf Coast Bible College (Mid-America Christian University) and Anderson University; and his numerous books—already classics in the Church of God—it’s no wonder his reach has been so vast!
Eric King, president of Warner Press, is greatly blessed to follow in the footsteps of such a giant in the Church of God. He explains that, during Arlo’s leadership as editor-in-chief (1977–1993), “he served the church faithfully.” Recalling the countless editorials in Vital Christianity, Eric cites Dr. James Earl Massey’s description of this important task, where Arlo wrote “to the churches about what he saw as doctrines to be treasured, issues to be faced, evils to be confronted, and ministries to be fulfilled.” Eric continues, “We are forever thankful and grateful to Dr. Newell for his dedication and contribution to the church and Warner Press. His love for the church and Warner Press will be missed.”
In his later years, Arlo and his wife remained active in their Anderson, Indiana, congregation, Park Place Church of God. All the while, they continued to pour into developing leaders through mentoring and teaching. Learning of the need for theological and reference books in the Church of God in southern India, Arlo donated his entire library of books to Asia Bible College. According to Arlo’s obituary, because of this generosity, “the college now offers a master of divinity program and is the best theological library [in the region].”
A tribute published by Christian Women Connection summarizes the state of the Church of God this week: “We are saddened by the passing of Rev. Dr. Arlo Frederic Newell. His passing leaves not only a wound on the hearts of many family members, friends, and colleagues, but also a dent in the Church of God, as he was a strong voice of integrity and a pillar of wisdom and strength…Through our mourning, we rejoice that he has a heavenly home and will partake in the goodness and presence of God. Christian Women Connection with many others will continue to pray for Dr. Newell’s family.”
Daughter Samme shared that Arlo passed away at 6:42 in the morning on Monday, the 1st—about the same time and day of week her mother had passed. She notes that, at the time of his death, they were playing the Church of God classic hymn, “A Child of God.” She writes, “I have been so blessed to have had him as my father. What a heritage!”
What a heritage, indeed! Through his writings and sermons, through those he led to the Lord, through those he discipled—whether directly or indirectly—and his family, Arlo Newell leaves a legacy of love which will certainly last.
SERVICE ARRANGEMENTS: The Service of Memory & Celebration of Life for Dr. Newell is scheduled for 11:00 AM on Monday, October 8, at Park Place Church of God, 501 College Dr., Anderson IN 46012. Family visitation hours are scheduled for 4:00 to 6:00 PM on Sunday, October 7, at Rozelle-Johnson Funeral Service, 229 South Rangeline Rd., Anderson IN 46012 and on Monday one hour before the Service begins.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Newell Lectureship at the School of Theology, Anderson University, 1100 E. Fifth St., Anderson, IN 46012.