Bissell, Bert(ie) MBE

The son of the PM minister Joseph B. Bissell (1869-1931; e.m. 1890), he was born on 9 January 1902. He moved to Dudley in 1925 and founded the Vicar Street Young Men's Bible Class, which at times numbered over 300 members and which he led for more than 70 years. Its objective was 'to find men for Christ' and over the years some 18 became ministers (including a future President of the Conference, Inderjit Bhogal) and a hundred local preachers. In 1931 he was appointed lay pastor of the Vicar Street church and in 1933 became Dudley's Probation Officer. Consequently the Bible Class became a haven for young men on probation and ex-prisoners on licence. In August 1945 he encouraged members of the class to erect a 'peace cairn' on the top of Ben Nevis and this developed into an international shrine for world peace and reconciliation among the nations. He sought to further this end through the mountaintop concept, by encouraging a number of distinguished climbers to place peace messages on the summits of some of the world's highest peaks. He was made a freeman of the borough of Dudley and was awarded the MBE in 1959 and the World Methodist Peace Award in 1987. He died on 19 October 1998. A stone memorial to him in the Coronation Gardens, Dudley was dedicated in May 2001.


'[Bert] is still widely remembered in the West Midlands as a world peace campaigner who also supported many of us to enter a wider ministry. He used to say that one of the best forms of evangelism was " increasing our circles of friendship"… Bret Bissell's young men's Bible class was a ubique experience. We had good Bible teaching, visits from the missionary college at Selly Oak and leaders in the Dudley community as speakers,, but the atmosphere was very different from most worship at that time. Nearly everyone who took a leading part had an enthusiastic hand clapping reception.'

David Monkton, in Methodist Recorder, 18 January 2-19

  • Methodist Recorder, 12 Nov 1998, 24 May 2001, 8 October 2009, 14 August 2020
  • Don Bissell & Barry Weetman, Bert Bissell, God's Mountaineer (1997)
  • David Monkton and Alan Wedge (eds.), Bert Bissell Remembered.' an Anthology of tributes and stories (Alsager, 2001)
  • Donald H. Ryan, 'Bertie Bissell, a godly man of prayer, leadership and peace, in Celebrating 50 Golden Years... (2016) pp.117-26

Entry written by: GRS
Category: Person
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