Church Historian in Residence and Professor

Personal Information

Dr. Clarence Bence (most of his friends call him "Bud") loves church history and coffee. He usually teaches his courses first thing in the morning, so he needs that coffee to keep awake...and so do his students. His wife, Carol, was a faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan in the nursing division for 12 years. After returning to the hospital setting, she is returned to IWU an retired in 2011 as the director of the RNBS program in nursing for Indiana Wesleyan’s non-residential college.. The Bences have three grown children. For hobbies, Bud enjoys carpentry and gardening. In 2003, Dr. and Mrs. Bence took a sabbatical leave to Southeast Asia where they taught in a mission school and lectured to pastors and their wives in India, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Ministerial and Professional Background

Dr. Bence spent his childhood in upstate New York, where his father pastored a Wesleyan Church and served as district superintendent. After studies at Houghton College and Asbury Seminary, he pastored a Wesleyan Church in Rochester, N.Y., where he developed a large youth program and church open to the "Jesus Movement" of the early 1970s. After five years of pastoring, he entered the doctoral program at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., where his studies centered on an in-depth analysis of the theology of John Wesley.

For the past 33 years, Dr. Bence has devoted himself to teaching in Wesleyan colleges— first at United Wesleyan College in Allentown, then at Indiana Wesleyan University (since 1982). He spent five years serving as academic dean at Houghton College, and then returned to IWU where he has taught church history and served in academic administration at IWU. Dr. Bence retired from full-time employment in 2013 but has continued teaching courses at Wesley Seminary when he is not involved in overseas ministry in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Dr. Bence speaks frequently at summer camps and on college campuses. In 1999 and again in 2012, he gave the keynote address at the general conference of his denomination, The Wesleyan Church.

Awards and Honors

He has received awards for "excellence in teaching" and has been honored as "professor of the year" by the students. In 2011, he was the first recipient of Indiana Wesleyan’s World-Changing Faculty Award. He has also been honored by Asbury Theological Seminary as Alumni of the Year. He was designated an emeritus faculty member of Indiana Wesleyan in 2012.


The Wesleyan Church, 1970, Indiana North


B.A., Philosophy, Houghton College (1966)
M.Div., Church History, Asbury Theological Seminary (1969)
Ph.D., Historical Theology, Emory University (1981)
Research Fellow at the World Institute of Methodist Studies, Oxford (England) University (1982, 1997)


He has authored a commentary on the book of Romans in a multi-volume series produced by Wesley Press, and was also one of the editors for the NIV Study Bible. He has contributed chapters in several books published by Wesleyan Press and is a frequent contributor to denominational periodicals.

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