JACKSON, Tenn. – Oct. 26, 2006 – Arthur William “Bill” Merrell has donated his personal library of 4,000 volumes to Union University’s R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies.
Merrell is the former vice president for convention relations for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. His is the largest book donation ever made to the Ryan Center.
“We are deeply grateful for the generosity of Bill Merrell to Union University,” Union President David S. Dockery said. “This book collection will help students and ministers throughout this region for years to come.”
Ray Van Neste, director of the Ryan Center, also expressed his appreciation. He said the library contained books ranging from great literature and poetry, to classic works of theology, to recent works on theology, biblical studies and pastoral ministry.
“We are honored to receive the library of Dr. Merrell,” Van Neste said. “He had an excellent library. It is a blessing simply as a model of the sort of books one ought to have and read. Here his books will continue to be a blessing to the students, pastors and Bible teachers who use the center’s library.”
Merrell had a stroke in 2003, and said afterwards he began to have double vision, which made reading more difficult for him. He began thinking about what to do with the books he had collected through his years in the ministry.
“When I could no longer read as easily as I once did, I realized those resources would probably not be used again unless I donated them to some institution that was true to the gospel,” Merrell said. “I thought of Union University, and I believe that they may do more good for more ministry students there than they would anywhere else.
“I wanted to be a blessing, and I wanted the books to be a blessing to pastors in the area and to students who were called to preach the gospel of Christ,” Merrell continued. “It’s investing in the work of the Lord, I thought.”
Merrell graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity, and from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry. He and his wife Sharla live in Norman, Okla.