The Church of Literature

By Jason Ruckman

October 8, 2013

As Missouri Western continues to grow, we take time to celebrate the people who have helped it come as far as it had.

Bill Church, a professor in creative writing, has been with Western for 25 years and has seen a lot of changes along the way.

“What hasn’t changed,” said Church, “We now have a creative writing minor. We now have two literary magazines. We have courses producing literary magazines. Now our journals are online. We can now publish weekly if we want, as opposed to annually.”

Church also mentioned how much the level of energy has gone up here in recent years.

During the years of Dr. Scanlon, the feeling of a Western family really went up, which helped everyone come together and move forward in, not only the English department, but throughout the entire campus.

Church was a farmer and construction worker before coming to Missouri Western to return to school.

“I’d never gone to school thinking I could get a degree. I had family and jobs and all that stuff. The idea of getting a college degree was more foreign to me,” Church said. “But I did it eventually. But that’s not unusual for any nontraditional student.”

After spending six years as an undergraduate student, he went on to attain his masters degree and returned to Missouri Western to teach. After spending some time teaching, he decided to go forward and get his doctorate.

Aside from being an academic and a professor, Church is also a published writer and currently has a book called “Current Address,”  which highlights the social concern of the people living in a tent city.

“I don’t have much of an interest in writing with no social purpose anymore,” Church said.

After reading Thoreau in high school, and black literature later on in college, Church was deeply influenced by writing for a cause. Since then, Church has strayed away from writing for purely artistic reasons and now writes more for the betterment, or understanding of humanity.

“As an academic, I’ve just told myself a lot of my writing has to happen during the summer to have any extended block of time, and then I do try to write four to six hours a day,” Church said, when talking about the difficulty of finding time to work on his own personal projects.

Church feels that a large part of writing is reading, and that one of the best things his teacher did for him was point him in the direction of certain authors, something Church tries to do with his students.

“He’s given me a lot of examples of what good publishable poetry looked like,” Jesse Frasier, a long time student of Church’s, said. “Missouri Western is very fortunate to have him. He really does care about his students and sees them as the future. He understands that we will be the ones writing down everything as time moves forward.

Senior Josh Comninellis went on to explain how rigorous Church’s class is, in teaching the right way of writing and telling a story.

“He is the best and most influential teacher I’ve had at Missouri Western. Hands down,” Comninellis said. “I took his poetry and creative writing classes and I’ve never had someone tell me how to work a story like he does.