- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2006

The Rev. Carl O. Bickel, longtime pastor of the United Parish of Bowie who was involved in community and regional church activities, died Feb. 11 at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis after a lengthy illness. He was 69.

A native of Bloomington, Ill., and a graduate of Lake Forest College, Mr. Bickel held theological degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and the University of Chicago. He also had master’s and doctoral degrees in pastoral counseling from Loyola College in Maryland. Mr. Bickel said that he viewed reconciliation as the theme of his life in both counseling and his pastoral duties.

He served churches in the New York City and Chicago areas, and was a Presbyterian campus minister at the University of Illinois before coming to Bowie.

Mr. Bickel was called to the United Parish in October 1973, three years after its founding as an ecumenical church merging the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ.

He enjoyed teaching theology and church history. He also was well-known for his thoughtful sermons, which included frequent references to his three sons and one daughter, who grew up in and regularly attend the church. Mr. Bickel spoke humbly of his day-to-day experiences in Bowie and prided himself on his extensive collection of Mormon Tabernacle Choir recordings.

“Carl has always been so much more to all of us than just the man who preached to us on Sunday. He and his family have inspired us all by their example,” said Roy Eades, United Parish’s vice moderator.

Mr. Bickel, who counted Christmas as his favorite time of year, last spoke from the pulpit of his church on Christmas Eve.

Mr. Bickel was a strong advocate of community service. Under his leadership, the church sponsored two Vietnamese refugees. He served on the task force that built the South Bowie Community Center, and was a member of the Presbytery of Washington and the Potomac Association of the United Church of Christ.

In addition, Mr. Bickel served on the Presbytery’s New Church Development Committee and the Potomac Association’s Church Development Committee, and helped guide the establishment of the Southern Maryland Faith Community. He also was active in the South Bowie Ministerial Association.

“The purpose of the church is to prepare us and sustain us when we are not in church,” Mr. Bickel once said in a sermon. “The critical questions [to ask ourselves] are: How can I make the world a better place? What does God want me to do?”

His survivors include his wife, Shirley Klotz Bickel, a Christian educator who also serves as United Parish’s organist; sons Eric of Kensington, Matthew of Bowie and Chadwick of Crofton, Md.; daughter Charissa, who attends Towson State University; a brother, George, of Wheaton, Ill.; and four grandchildren.

A visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the United Parish of Bowie, at Mitchellville and Mount Oak roads.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Christian Community Presbyterian Church, 3120 Belair Drive, Bowie. Burial will be at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Cemetery. A time of fellowship will be held at the United Parish of Bowie after the burial.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be given to the Carl O. Bickel Memorial Fund and sent to the United Parish of Bowie, c/o Becky De Meo.

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