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Alumni Profile in Excellence: Influencing Growth

July 2, 2008

Marvin Hall is an influencer. He's been one all of his life. As a farmer, grocer, pastor, business manager and Christian financial counselor, he has influenced the lives of others. At the age of 89, he's still at it.

A product of the Great Depression, Marvin taught Sunday School as a teenager in his western Oklahoma hometown of Sayre. At 21, he married Lois Moore. It was the start of a partnership which has spanned nearly seven decades.

"When we got married, we barely could make a living at farming," he said. "For nine months, I worked in a country store, and that's how I learned the grocery business. From 1946-49, I had a grocery store in Dill City. In my third year of the grocery business, I knew God called me to preach. I started preaching 60 years ago."

The career change did not come as a surprise to his wife. "I knew he was going to surrender to preach, and he had never said a word to me," said Lois, recalling the Sunday morning Marvin made his calling public. "He wanted to sell the store, and he found somebody in a couple of weeks to buy it."

Marvin started supply preaching in Lone Oak after he received a call from the associational missionary. In less than a month, the church called him as pastor. He was later called as pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Norman. That was the first step in a gradual move east.

By the mid-1950s, Marvin was taking classes at OBU. The Hall family had expanded to five. Marvin and Lois and their young children, Marvin Jr., Sandy and Vivian, made the move to Shawnee.

Several of his young professors would become Bison Hill legends. He studied religion under Dr. Rowena Strickland and Dr. James Timberlake. He also enjoyed biology courses taught by Dr. Sheridan Lee and English and history classes taught by Dr. James Ralph Scales.

"Sheridan Lee always started the class with prayer," said Marvin. "And then he would say, 'Today, we're going to find out how God made it.' That's how he taught science."

Marvin was pastor of Shawnee's Trinity Baptist Church while he was in college. The Halls' fourth child, Randy, was born just months before Marvin went in view of a call to a church in northeast Oklahoma. He would serve at Bartlesville's Trinity Baptist Church for six years.

While leading churches to expand their facilities, Marvin developed a strong relationship with the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma. As a pastor in Norman, he led his church to build a new education building with assistance from the BFO.

"We were the fourth church to borrow from the Foundation, and I got acquainted with them through their support," he said. "Then when I was in Bartlesville we built an education building, but the committee said 'you can't borrow from the Baptist Foundation.' The next week, I showed them the paperwork for $8,000 from the Baptist Foundation. They were shocked that I could get it."

In 1965, a BFO representative came to Bartlesville to make an offer to Marvin -- not for a loan, but for a position with the foundation staff.

"I was sitting in my office, and someone called me and asked if he could visit with me," he said, recalling the scheduled appointment. "By the end of the conversation, I had accepted the job."

It was an opportunity for Marvin to have a positive influence on other Oklahoma Baptists. He could help them make the most of their financial resources to expand Baptist work in the state.

For 20 years, Marvin worked as an executive for the BFO. He helped numerous churches and ministries through financial management.

"The Baptist Foundation had $6 million when I came on board," he said. "Now they have $250 million, so it's really grown."

The partnership he and Lois formed 68 years ago served him extremely well as he traversed Oklahoma for the foundation.

"Mom stayed at home while he traveled all over Oklahoma," recalls Vivian. "When my brothers and I were out of the home, she traveled with him. She was an ideal pastor's wife and confidant."

Along with supporting churches, the Halls also are passionate about helping students receive a Christian education. Their desire grew from the influence of a man who helped Sandy and Vivian attend Marvin's alma mater. Sandy graduated in 1969 and Vivian graduated in 1971.

"A farmer from Beaver gave us money for our kids' education," he said. "We were so thankful that we had the help to send our kids to school that we wanted to set up a scholarship for other kids to go that couldn't make it otherwise."

Marvin and Lois made it possible for many students to attend OBU through a scholarship fund they established in honor of Lois' parents. The fund is now endowed with more than $100,000 and continues to grow."I love OBU because I love the professors and how they open the classes with prayer," he said. "We had a lot of young people from our churches attend OBU, and I know they are now impacting lives."Just as Marvin influenced many people, he also encouraged them to do the same.

Marvin and Lois continue to live in Oklahoma City, and it appears his life has come full circle. He is teaching every Sunday morning, just like he did as a teenager in Sayre.

Click the following link to view a full list of previous Profile in Excellence recipients.