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Bishop J. Howard Dell collection

 Collection — Box: 1-28
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0118

Scope and contents

The Bishop J. Howard Dell collection span the years between 1946 and 1992. The collection illustrates the interworking of his personal and ministerial life. Personal diaries of both Bishop Dell and his wife, Macie Lee Dell, briefly describing their daily activities are contained within the collection. Included in the diaries are references to church worship, Bishop Dell’s Poteat Funeral Home radio broadcast, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy and the illness of Marcie Dell. Also included in the collection is the obituary program of Macie Lee Dell, along with her memorial service guestbook, and the funeral program of Bishop Dell. Additional items of interest are news clippings related to slavery and the African American church, writings on the history of Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Georgia, church service programs, COGIC national church logs, ministerial rolls, Bishop Dell’s final words before death and correspondence between Georgia and Memphis related to church polity and polity disputes.


  • Creation: 1946-1992

Rights statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright and/or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact:

Biographical note

Bishop John Howard Dell was born in Washington County, Georgia on September 29, 1902. He was the eldest son of six children born to Mr. Henry Dell and Mrs. Maggie Dell. Bishop Dell began preaching and spreading the gospel at the age of 16. At 18, he preached out of his first congregation in Gardner, Georgia. During his life, Bishop Dell founded four other churches: Crisp Street Church, Macon Georgia; First Church of God in Christ, Soperton, Georgia; First Church of God in Christ, Lyons, Georgia; and Christ Temple Church of God in Christ, Atlanta, Georgia. He also started missions in Danville, TerryTom, Alley, and Udila, Georgia. Dell married Della Hunter in 1922; they had seven children before her death in 1961. In 1962 he married Macie Lee Johnson until her death in 1969. He was married to his third wife at the time of his death in 1992, Jean Lewis Dell – they married in 1970.

Bishop Dell was ordained an elder in the Church of God in Christ on August 20, 1924. In 1927, he was appointed to the Office of District Superintendent. As Superintendent he presided over the First Augusta, Cordelle, and Moultrie Districts. He served as Jurisdictional Chairman (1934-1937) and Corresponding Secretary (1940-1947) for the State of Georgia. Dell served as secretary for the National Council of Elders from 1946 to 1972. On April 17, 1948, he was appointed Georgia’s overseer by the late Bishop Charles H. Mason. Bishop Mason consecrated him to the Office of Bishop on October 15, 1954. Bishop Dell was instrumental in the Northern Georgia Jurisdiction having a headquarters being paid for by the congregation. Dell was a member of the Board of Directors (and received an Honorary LLD Degree) at Saints Junior College and served on the Board of Trustees at C.H. Mason Seminary, a Constituent Seminary of the Interdenominational Theological Center.

Bishop Dell was a pioneer in mass media ministries. He was one of the first Black ministers in Georgia to have a radio ministry beginning in 1941, and the first to preach from a remote radio site in Macon and Columbus, Georgia. He was the first Black minister to have a television ministry in Albany, Georgia beginning in 1958 and one of the first Blacks to telecast Sunday services in Atlanta, Georgia beginning in 1979.


31.00 Linear feet (collection containing 1.5 linear feet of manuscripts (3 manuscript boxes and 1 oversized box), and 29.5 linear feet of audiovisual materials (371 audio recordings and 352 video recordings).)

Language of Materials



Collection is arranged in five series: Personal Papers, Family Papers, Northern Georgia Church of God In Christ (COGIC), Church of God In Christ (COGIC), and Audiovisual Materials.

Related Materials

Hamilton, Ovell. Splitting in Jesus's name: a history of Georgia's COGIC church. 1989 thesis, available at:

This collection will compliment the Archives Research Center Religion subject guide available at:


Oversized materials have been separated to appropriate housing.

Processing information

The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for Humanities - Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Implementation Project Grant in supporting the processing and digitization of a number of its major archival collections as part of the project: Spreading the Word: Expanding Access to African American Religious Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library

Bishop J. Howard Dell collection, 1946-1992
Finding aid prepared by Jessica Leming, 2015 November
November 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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