101-year-old retired minister in Abilene still writes weekly commentary
With a family history dating to the Cane Ridge Revival of 1801, it’s no wonder Lloyd Boyll is both a retired Church of Christ minister and a historian.
Boyll turned 101 on June 5, but to hear him tell it, he’s really only a little over one year old. When he turned 100 last year, Boyll decided to start over with the numbering.
“That was just a joke,” he said, but it caught on with friends.
The Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky attracted an estimated 20,000 people to what is believed to be the largest camp meeting ever held in the United States. It lasted a week, with people coming and going over dusty, bumpy roads in their wagons and on horseback.
The revival is part of the history of several denominations, including the Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ. And, it’s part of Boyll’s history, too.
“That’s the beginning of our family religious heritage,” Boyll said.
Boyll spent most of his life in Indiana before moving to Abilene with his wife, Stella, in 1992, to be close to a son, Dave Boyll. Stella died in 2015, and Boyll still lives in the home they purchased, located next door to their son. With the help of a motorized scooter and Meals on Wheels, Boyll manages just fine.
“I’m thankful to God and to a lot of people,” Boyll said.
For most of his years in Abilene, Boyll attended Sunday School and worship services at Minter Lane Church of Christ. He no longer can attend, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t contribute.
Boyll has been a writer and history buff all his life. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1939 from Indiana State Teachers College, now Indiana State University, in Terre Haute. He combined teaching junior high school social studies and coaching basketball with preaching at Church of Christ congregations until becoming a full-time preacher in 1946.
Boyll later earned a master’s degree from Indiana State and was a middle school counselor before retiring in 1982. While he was still preaching, Boyll began writing a newsletter for people of various denominations in the Midwest. His former Sunday School teacher at Minter Lane Church of Christ, Larry Bradshaw, said Boyll began to see a need for a wider fellowship than the church he grew up in.
“He began to write about the need to reach out to other denominations,” Bradshaw said in an email, “and celebrate our common heritage instead of harping on small differences.”
Boyll’s articles were distributed to various churches throughout the Midwest, which Bradshaw finds remarkable. Many older Christians tend to resist change in church, especially in music and worship styles, but Boyll was different.
“Lloyd has shown us how to embrace changes,” Bradshaw said.
After turning 100, Boyll decided to do something similar to share with church members, friends, the postman, whoever stops by.
“A lot of people who never asked for them get them,” he said.
Boyll calls his new version “Flashes of Light,” in which he comments on Bible passages, shares his favorite hymns and comments on societal changes. Each week, Bradshaw takes a copy of “Flashes of Light” to share with class members. A recent edition combined references to hymns, scripture and a little bit of family history.
“He tries to tie all those song titles to actual scriptures,” his son, Dave, said.
While Boyll’s mind is still sharp, his body is more fragile. His eyesight and hearing are deteriorating, but he keeps plugging away every day on his computer, with Dave’s help. He is grateful for every minute of his 101 years and lets people know it.
“It’s only with God’s blessing that I have what I have,” he said. “I’m indebted to many people, as well as the Lord.”
- Loretta Fulton, Special to the Reporter-News