29 November, 2022

Lloyd Pelfrey & Gareth Reese: 130 Years of Service

by | 2 September, 2022 | 21 comments

(This school year is different at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Mo. After a combined 130 years of service to the school—65 years each—Lloyd Pelfrey and Gareth Reese retired following the Spring 2022 semester. The pair had served the school since it opened in 1957. Daniel Schantz, who worked alongside those men at CCCB for many years, wrote this appreciation.) 

LLOYD PELFREY (LEFT) AND GARETH REESE SHARE A LAUGH AT CENTRAL CHRISTIAN COLLEGE OF THE BIBLE’S HERITAGE DAY IN SEPTEMBER 2021. (IMAGES COURTESY OF CCCB’S FACEBOOK PAGE)

By Daniel Schantz 

I zoom my little white Volkswagen bug out of Lansing, Mich., and aim it west to Moberly, Mo., 10 hours away. It’s January of 1965, and I am 22 years old. My new bride is at my side, and the moving van is following us. 

We are headed to Central Christian College, which is a college “of the Bible,” and Bible is what I am looking for. I was told that Central has many Bible courses and two of the best Bible teachers in the country: Lloyd Pelfrey and Gareth Reese.  

I’m a little nervous about meeting these two scholars, but they turn out to be just regular people. Lloyd is trim, with thinning brown hair and light blue eyes. Gareth is shorter, muscular, with black hair and dark eyes. I am six feet one, with green eyes and dark brown hair. 

Gareth shakes my hand, grins, and says, “I don’t know about this guy, Lloyd. I don’t trust anyone over six feet tall.” I laugh and come back with, “Well, that’s funny, because I don’t trust anyone under six feet.” It’s an icebreaker, and these men turn out to be much fun. 

LLOYD PELFREY: AN OT SCHOLAR AND MORE
As a teacher, Lloyd was a human ATM, dispensing Old Testament facts instead of cash. He had a Velcro memory and could summarize years of study into a few sentences. 

Recently I asked him, “Who was Ishbi-benob?” 

He thought for just a moment. “Ishbi-benob was the Philistine soldier who almost killed King David when David grew faint. His name means ‘dweller in Nob,’ and Jewish tradition says that he was a giant, the brother of Goliath, but, if so, he was a runt, because his spear weighed only half as much as Goliath’s.” Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (Not bad for a 91-year-old brain.)  

Lloyd knows more about the Old Testament than Moses. After all, Moses died before most of the Old Testament was written. 

I took a Hebrew language class from Lloyd that met at 6 a.m., and I was not an early bird. Which is why the only Hebrew word I remember is Shalom, which means “peace” (I think). 

Lloyd and Gareth were not interested just in their own departments, but in the entire college and in the kingdom of God at large. Besides teaching, Lloyd served as academic dean in his early years, then as president of the college for 26 years, and, finally, as chancellor in his latter years. He preached on Sundays, wrote for Standard Publishing, founded a new church organization, and much more. But his first love was always teaching the Old Testament to young minds. 

GARETH REESE: A NT SCHOLAR AND MORE
Meanwhile, Gareth was covering the New Testament, methodically and meticulously. He was a spirited, dynamic teacher, pouring out his heart, with sweat on his forehead and sometimes breathing hard. Only another teacher can understand how exhausting good teaching can be. 

Gareth was famous for cute little quips, like, “riding the pony” (which means cheating on translations) . . . “praying for squigglies” (those red grading marks that gave partial credit) . . .  “killing two stones with one bird” (an old Chuck Norris line) . . . “the sooner the quicker” (as in when to turn in assignments) . . . and, my favorite, “You’re a good man” (when a student got the answer right). I liked that phrase so much that I have used it myself with store clerks, librarians, friends. Even women like it. They smile and say, “Well, I’m not a man, but thank you. I do try to be a good woman.” 

Gareth used every possible means to reach students, from visuals of all kinds to helpful handouts. His tests were not easy, but they were fair, and he graded his own papers. Like Lloyd, Gareth took on many other projects, such as the library, which he built over a period of 40 years. It was his “baby,” and when we students got into a squirt-gun war in the library, he turned into a Mama Bear, protecting her cubs, the books. 

Gareth wrote heavy-duty commentaries on the New Testament books, with the help of his wife, Kathy. On weekends he preached in churches, and sometimes helped mediate conflicts in troubled churches. (A brave man). 

WORKING TO GLORIFY THE LORD
These two teachers influenced some 5,000 students who came through Central. They gave a combined 130 years to the college, sometimes working for free, when support for the college was off. 

I was graduated in 1966, but in 1968 I was invited back to become the Christian education professor, and I served for 43 years. I was only 25 when I started, and I made a lot of mistakes. Often, I had to turn to my former teachers for help. When I was teaching Ecclesiastes, I looked to Lloyd to save me. “Lloyd, what’s your take on Ecclesiastes 7:16, ‘Be not over righteous . . .’? How can anyone be too righteous?” 

Like all of us, Lloyd and Gareth had their quirks and their failings, and they are quick to point out that they were only two of many excellent teachers who made Central the unique college that it is. These men worked not for personal acclaim, but to glorify the Lord. Emerson once said, “A great institution is but the lengthened shadow of a single man.” At Central, that Man is Christ, our Lord. 

What did I learn in my time at Central? 

I learned that you could trust teachers who are less than six feet tall. 

I learned that Gareth Reese is a very good man. 

I learned that Lloyd Pelfrey is an Old Testament giant. 

And I learned that Shalom means “peace.” 

Rest in peace in retirement, Lloyd and Gareth. You have earned it, many times over. 

Daniel Schantz is a professor emeritus of Central Christian College of the Bible, Moberly, Mo. 

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com

21 Comments

  1. Donna Glasgow

    I also had these professors at CCCB and learned a lot from them. Love the article, Dan!

  2. TR Robertson

    Don’t leave us hanging, dds. What WAS Mr. Pelfrey’s take on Ecclesiastes 7:16?

  3. Michael Worstell

    Always held in honor and esteem for their graciousness toward me. Mr. Pelfrey for believing in me when first going to the mission field. Mr. Reese for challenging us to having the Faith of our Fathers and to pick up the mantel that has fallen.

  4. Jenn Skrocki

    Excellent tribute, Mr. Shantz. You’re a good man!

  5. Greg Stout

    Very good Dan. I had the privilege of sitting under all three of you. Years I will never forget and instruction I still cherish. My father, Robert Stout, sat under these fine teachers during the early years. We spoke of them often until he went to his reward. Thanks to all 3 of your fine teachers.

  6. Kathy van tassel

    These three men greatly influenced my service capabilities as well as my walk with Christ.

  7. Jon Popham

    I’m proud to have been one of the students to study in Lloyd and Gareth’s classrooms. To know them as professors, as mentors, and as friends for more than 40 years, I am truly blessed. Thank you, Dr. Pelfrey and Dr. Reese, for your passion and your teaching.

  8. Doug Shaw

    Great article about two great teachers of the Word! Central will miss them dearly!❤️

  9. Phyllis Self

    Mr. Pelfrey is in our Sunday School class on Sunday mornings and we older adults couldn’t believe how he at the age of 90 could bring up so many dates and information as we went thru the book of Daniel. Our wonderful teacher, Ed Lewis, used Mr. Pelfrey a lot and there are many people in the class that sat under him in the 1960s and ’70s and we were amazed at him bringing up what he had taught us and what we couldn’t remember all through this book. He is amazing!

  10. Allen Tipton

    As an older student close to 40 and graduating in December 2013, I had Mr. Pelfrey for only one class and it was online; “Israel after Exile.” Even through cyberspace Mr. Pelfrey was a natural (it was his first time)! Even though I was never instructed by Mr. Reese, I was taught by many of his previous students at Central and through various ministries at home, Unionville, Missouri. Jeff and Joy Butler were my youth ministry team as a child, Nick Tuttle served as youth minister to my children, and I have had the pleasure of ministering to Unionville FCC and the Parkview Church of Christ. All of these ministries and countless others are little branches from larger ones like Mr. Pelfrey and Mr. Reese. My relationship with Jesus and my time at CCCB are blessed because of roots going back to these two men.

  11. Thilini

    Beautifully written tribute, Schantzy. Thank you for this.

  12. Emily Ruth Swartz

    My favorite Reeceism was “Put that in your computer!” Both of these men were a wonderful part of my CCCB experience. A beautiful tribute Mr. Schantz

  13. Gary L Burress Jr

    My dad revered these two men. When our dad at 40 said God was calling him to minister, dad answered that call and CCCB and Mr. Pelfrey and Mr. Reese became my Dad’s mentors among others Professors.

    Mr. Pelfrey was the first call we kids made to Officiate our Mom’s funeral in 2013. These are great men and are synonymous with CCCB and certainly our family.

  14. Phil Marley

    Dan. You hit another homerun. Watch out Pujols. Your God-given talent is so special. And to honor these two men is fantastic! Thank you! I count it a privilage to have worked alongside these two, you, and many other faithful and dedicated servants at CCCB!

  15. Vanessa Stanley Rodman

    Wow! What a beautiful tribute to two amazing and influential men written by another amazing and influential man. I did not have Mr. Pelfrey as a professor, he was the President of the college during my time. I did have the honor of Mr. Reese as my professor for many, many classes. A few of which still bring me to tears to think about. I have to say I do still quote him, “Weak point pound pulpit.” I cherished his honor and integrity to admit, in a way that made me smile, that his point was “weak” and to study and make your decision for yourself.

  16. Ryan

    I had a lot going on in my life during LOC III with Mr. Reese. I would sleep through class and get the notes from a friend who took excellent notes. In the “grade” portion on every test, I would always fill in “100” before I turned it in. I actually did get 100 on the final and Mr. Reese wrote, “you finally did it” and made a smiley face. He knew life was rough at that time and he never gave me a hard time about it. I WISH I wouldn’t have slept but I forever love the man for having understanding before ego.

    Mr. Schantz, I can’t tell you how much of a gem you are. I now write for a living and I blame you. 🙂 thank you!

  17. Andrew Fillmore

    I sat second row in Acts class at 7 a.m., mainly because the first row table was pushed up against the 10 foot desk Reese stood behind (I’m not sure why the desk was so tall, maybe to give him an even more intimidating stance than he already had). This day was much like any other for Reese, red-faced and passionate and then it happened. A tooth dropped out of his mouth, fell tumbling down, bounced across his desk and out onto the front row table.

    Tough tests, even tougher man.

    I think I had one class from Mr. Pelfrey. I remember his knowledge far exceeding his vision because by then he couldn’t see the last row. Which is where I mostly sat. I remember that being one of my favorite classes throughout college.

    Brilliant, steady mind even more steady disciple.

    I’m not sure how much material I remember from their classes. Probably, most of what I spout off about the Pentateuch, Acts, Romans, James, 1/2/3 John and Revelation(s). But, what I do remember is how passion and conviction look. Both Reese and Pelfrey were marked by these and these were learned through osmosis from students down across the decades.

    Surely, we will hear the voice of these giants in the halls of heaven.

    With love and respect.

  18. Tim Mitchell

    Well said, Mr. Schantz.

    If there’s a Mount Centralmore (CCCB’s version of Mount Rushmore), it must have the faces of Pelfrey, Reese, and Schantz on it. . . . I’m not sure who would be the forth person . . . Probably best not to debate on it.

  19. Patty Agee

    My highest regards for the integrity and knowledge of these two people. Their dedication to the Lord and their calling are noteworthy. Follow them as they follow Christ.

  20. Carol Yoder

    A wonderful tribute to two great Christian men. Thank you, Dan.

  21. James Tolson

    I never really appreciated these men until after I graduated from CCCB. Today I go over Dr. Reese’s New Testament commentaries and Dr. Pelfrey’s Old Testament notes before I teach Adult Sunday School or preach to congregations. God has blessed them with amazing intellects and I shared with them both and apologized for being such a pain as a student there. Central Christian College of the Bible has helped shape me into the man I am today and Doctors Pelfrey and Reese were dominate factors in that shaping.

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