Local author to host signing

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 Brent Bill
 
 Bill’s newest novel

A Global Positioning System (GPS) can help one find a route, measure distance and altitude, give time of day.

“But it’s no good unless you turn it on,” says Quaker minister and author Brent Bill, reflecting on his latest book, “Sacred Compass.”

“Sacred Compass” is the 18th book for the West High School graduate who will be signing to book May 10 at his parents’ home on the Hilltop. It’s also the third in a series.

“One is on silence, another on light,” he said in a telephone interview from Indiana. “This one is on how we know what God wants us to do with our lives.”

In his blog, found on his Web page, www.brentbill.com, a reader asked what he would recommend for tapping in more directly to “God’s Positioning System.”

“We have to first turn it on, then we have to consult it,” he wrote. “GPS doesn’t do any good if it’s just in the car or on our cell phone. It has to be turned on and ready to go – and we have to use it.”

Instead of a GPS that says “turn right,” with God’s Positioning System, you’ll find divine purpose, he explained.

“It’s not exact. If we want to go to God, it will take us that way, with both the happy and the sad, the good and the challenging.”

Bill, married and the father of six grown children, squeezes time into his busy life to write. Besides being a Quaker minister, he works 50 acres of land outside Indianapolis to turn into a prairie, and also works for the Center for Congregations in downtown Indianapolis that is funded by the Lilly Foundation.

Being an author also means he is out trying to sell the book as well as sign it, and also teaches writers workshops.

As a youth on the Westside, Bill readily admits he wasn’t of the athletic variety.

“There were two places you could always find me,” he said, “at the library or at the Friends Church on Highland Avenue.”

He was an avid reader at a young age. And when it came time to choose a career, English and history were his choices.

“I thought about teaching history,” he said.

After graduating from high school, he began working as a youth minister with a group known as Young Life, a high school Christian organization that met until about 1978, some three years after he left Columbus.

Bill started college at Malone in Canton in northeast Ohio, and later moved to Hillsboro where he finished his college education at nearby Wilmington, another Quaker school.

In the Quaker religion, there is no ordination of a person to be a minister. Rather, a person who exhibits gifts of ministry over a while can be recorded as a minister, he explained.

By 1980, he was living in east central Indiana and active with the Friends Church. That year he was recorded by the Indiana Yearly Meeting and went on to seminary at Earlham College and became the solo pastor at the Jericho Friends Church.

In 1983, his first book was published,  the biography of a little-known Quaker. The following year he wrote a book on the Christian approach to Rock and Roll, “and it sold 30,000 copies,” he said proudly.

He had seven books in that series, mostly humor with a little bit of devotions, he said, “sort of like Dave Barry with a point.”

Bill’s Global Positioning System may be turned on this weekend as he returns to his home town. With the schedule he has, he may have to consult some other high-tech device to keep him on track.

In addition to the book signing from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the home of his parents, John and JoAnn Bill at 82 S. Sylvan Ave., he will be celebrating a couple of other family events.

“It’s multipurpose trip,” he said. “We don’t get back to Columbus all that often. Having 50 acres to take care of takes up the weekend. Being a writer, you are often out promoting and speaking and leading workshops. This seems like a good chance to do a lot of things at once.”

“Celebrate the book with family and friends,? he said, quietly sliding in that he will be celebrating his 57th birthday that weekend also. “After we’re done, we’ll take Mother for dinner for Mothers Day.”

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