Dr. John Brown Bridwell

Dr. John Brown Bridwell
Dr. John Brown Bridwell

Dr. John Bridwell dedicated his life to the spiritual nurture of others. The son of a minister, he had no intention of following in his father’s career footsteps, but World War II changed that. On New Year’s Eve, 1945, just months before his college graduation, John found himself alone and struggling to find meaning in the wartime deaths of so many friends. That very night he canceled his plans to attend law school in Michigan and decided to enroll, instead, at Kentucky’s Lexington Theological Seminary, a graduate school affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He never looked back and experienced only joy and satisfaction during 43 years of active ministry.”


John was born March 27, 1922 in Bedford, Indiana to Harry T. Bridwell and Marie Brown Bridwell. He was educated in the public schools in Indiana until his family moved to Windsor, Ontario Canada in 1939 where his father became the minister of the Giles Blvd. Christian Church. It was there that he met his future wife Bette. After high school John attended Assumption College of the University of Western Ontario where he was Valedictorian and Class President. Upon graduation, he entered Lexington Theological Seminary where he earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree. In 1975 he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Texas Christian University. He was also the recipient of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge George Washington Honor Medal.


Dr. Bridwell served congregations in Wilmore, Kentucky; Ft. Thomas, Kentucky; Warren, Ohio; Falls Church, Virginia; and finally Amarillo, Texas. While in Ohio he led an evangelism effort that brought 16,000 new members into churches across the state in just one year.


Among his many services and contributions were President of the National Evangelistic Association, President of the National Evangelism Workshop, Amarillo Foundation for Pastoral Care, Amarillo Area Foundation, President of the Hi-Plains Area Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), President of the Potter-Randall County American Cancer Society, President of the Amarillo Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and founding President of the Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center of Amarillo.

In addition he was a Trustee of Lexington Theological Seminary, Trustee of Lynchburg College, President of the Capital Area Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Evangelism Chair of the Ohio Council of Churches, President of the Amarillo Ministerial Association, and a member of the Rotary Club of Amarillo of which he was a Paul Harris Fellow.


He was married to Bette Jean Webb Bridwell for 59 years until her death in 2005. He is survived by his brother Dr. Travis Bridwell and wife Laney of Lubbock, his son Timothy J. Bridwell and wife Mary Helen B. Forbes of California, his daughter Elizabeth Hermann and her husband Larry of Dallas, his three precious granddaughters Lane Rideout and husband Ben of Colorado, Carey Allen of Virginia, and Lauren Harlowe and husband Michael of Wisconsin, he also leaves four great grandchildren: Brewer Allen, Piper Rideout, Ayla and Annabelle Harlowe.


A memorial service to celebrate the life of John Bridwell will be held at First Christian Church at a later date. In lieu of flowers, should you wish to make a gift to the John Bridwell Endowed Scholarship at Brite Divinity School it would be most appreciated. Checks can be made out to First Christian Church and designated Bridwell Scholarship and mailed to 3001 Wolflin Ave. Amarillo, TX 79109.


John’s last Christmas letter contained these words: “Across the years many of my family and friends have departed this earthly realm, although they linger in my soul. But faith remains! God remains! When all else is lost God remains and He loves us. My counsel? KEEP IT SIMPLE. We do not have to understand, nor explain. Just appreciate. Rejoice!”

10 Replies to “Dr. John Brown Bridwell”

  1. Dr. John was a part of our family from the day he walked into First Christian. He had a quiet dignity about him and early on encouraged Bob to step forward and accept the chairmanship of a committee, which he agreed to only if Dr. John would pray with him and for him. As we brought up and baptized our children in the church…in our church, Bob and I were able to draw on Dr. John for the joys and strengths needed to move through happy times and unplanned for losses. He was a great man and leaves a great legacy. Rest in Peace, Dr. John.

  2. My thoughts and prayers are with John’s family and friends.
    What a wonderful and witty man! I am so happy that I got to have lunch with John and the rest of our Water Warriors gang just a about a month ago. He was the ring leader in our water aerobics class many years ago at BSA! So proud to have known him! He will be missed by so many of us!

  3. I wish I had known him! I am not surprised to learn that Dr. Bridwell was a brilliant man and a force for good all of his life. That is because I know his daughter, Liz. His light blinked out, but hers remains, shining in her, and in her daughters, and, I imagine, in her grandchildren as well. I am saying a prayer of gratitude right now for all those who make this world better.

  4. John was my friend.

    I worked at a retirement facility where he lived for several years, and there is where our acquaintance grew into a strong and solid friendship.

    John sat in a church pew at First Christian Church directly in front of where my wife and I sat. He always arrived at the Sunday morning service earlier than we did, and John always seemed to be looking for us to arrive.

    John was such a humble man; it was always a wonderful refreshing and uplifting pleasure to be in his presence.

    I will greatly miss my friend . . .

  5. Ellen, gracious words. I imagine that you recognized your own words at the opening of the obituary. Thank you for sharing his amazing and heartfelt prayer. It does have a timeless message to share . Elizabeth

  6. On April 15, 2012, Dr. Bridwell delivered the invocation for a dinner celebrating “An Evening with Ken Burns” (the famous PBS documentary producer). Burns and his film crew were in the Texas Panhandle to premier their show, “The Dust Bowl.”
    After Dr. Bridwell shared the prayer he’d written for the occasion, the crowd that had gathered, more than 200, sat in silence. After a few moments, Ken Burns approached the mic to speak about his documentary and began by paying homage to the prayer he’d just heard. Later, Burns asked me to send him a copy of the prayer and, with Dr. Bridwell’s approval, Burns used it in several of his speeches as he traveled from state to state to talk about his film. I joked with Dr. Bridwell (John) about that prayer, calling it “the prayer heard round the world.” Although it was written about The Dust Bowl (the worst hard time, one writer called it), the prayer seems prophetic today (Covid19) and especially appropriate in this Easter season.
    I’d like to share it with you here:

    Where are the safe havens, Lord?
    The bowels of the earth groan and grind and erupt,
    Sunammis blast and erase our work,
    And destroy our castles and shacks, the products of our hands and our heads,
    We run and splatter, and sputter, and scream, and cry, and curse,
    But time does not hear us, nor seem to care.

    The winds rage incessantly, we feel, and ruin our crops, and assault our homes,
    And make us gasp for breathable air, and we cry mud and suffocate,
    and lay our babies, and elderly to rest.
    O, Lord, God, what is this? Where are you? Where do we find refuge?

    Then the sun rises once again, and the heavens declare your glory,
    but we do not forget,
    The day is clear, the sky is glorious, the breezes caress, the earth heals and so do we,
    but we do not forget.

    We do not forget, because thoughtful, wise, and skillful people
    Re present our lives again and again, lest we forget our vulnerabilities,
    Our utter depend abilities, and imagine foolishly that we are masters and gods.

    We praise you and thank you, Almighty God, for all our remembrances,
    Good and bad, and especially for remembering that the earth is the Lord’s
    And the fullness thereof, the earth and they that swell therein, and that you
    Alone are the author of life and our eternal salvation. As witnessed on Calvary and in the empty tomb.

  7. Dr. Bridwell officiated at my our wedding in 1972 and we are still going strong. He will be missed. Grace to his family and friends.

  8. Our sincere prayers and condolences to John’s family and to the members of First Christian Church, Amarillo.

  9. So very sorry for your loss. Dr John was a kind and gentle soul and will be remembered in our hearts

  10. John was wonderful man and comforter to our family when we lost our Mom and Dad. He lived a full life and touched so many people. He will be sorely missed.

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