Reverend Dennis deLoss Kissell of Portland, Tennessee went home to be with his Heavenly Father on February 22, 2022. He leaves behind his devoted wife of 60 years, Fern (Ellison) Kissell of Portland, Tennessee and his sons, Bentley Kissell of Portland, Tennessee; Dr. Bradley Kissell and his wife, Dr. Juanita (Bramble) Kissell (Rev. Kissell’s “adopted and highly favored” daughter) of Cottontown, Tennessee. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clifford and Verna (Cummins) Kissell; sisters, Janice Hendry and Diane Netherlands; and brother, Chester Kissell. He is survived by one sister, Karen McLaughlin, and husband Johnny of Royse City, Texas and one brother, David Kissell, and wife Carolina of Plano, Texas.
Reverend Kissell was born on July 11, 1941, in Portland, Oregon to loving parents who served the Lord as bivocational pastors for the Church of God (Anderson) denomination. He witnessed his father provide for his family as a home builder while pastoring churches, often two at a time. During his early years, he learned to love God, family, and construction and to have a strong work ethic that he then carried into all aspects of his adult life.
Reverend Kissell invited Jesus to be his Lord and Savior early in life and grew up in the church. While in his second year of college studying architecture, he surrendered to a call to pastoral ministry. The next semester he transferred to Gulf Coast Bible College (GBC) in Houston, Texas to prepare for ministry. While attending GBC, he met and married the love of his life, Fern Ellison from Falfurrias, Texas, who also attended GBC.
Reverend Kissell followed in his father’s footsteps and pastored churches throughout the United States including in Arizona, California, Kansas, Colorado, Michigan, and Ohio. As a bivocational pastor, he owned a private construction business that provided him the flexibility to serve within smaller churches. Early in his ministry, he hosted a radio show in which he taught from the Word of God. Due to his passion for missions and especially those who live in Central Latin America, he organized and led missionary trips to Guatemala and Nicaragua taking clothing and vitamins while also helping local congregations build church buildings. He was also a strong advocate for the hearing impaired due to one of his two children being born with complete hearing loss. During one of his pastorates and before the public-school system accommodated the deaf, he, his wife, and another couple created a small school for the oral deaf that opened its doors with 9 children and one teacher.
In 1980, Reverend Kissell moved his family to Springdale, Arkansas to plant a church for the Church of God, Anderson denomination. Within the first week and while acting as a subcontractor, he sustained a serious and nearly fatal injury. After numerous surgeries and a very long healing process, he retired early from full-time pastoral ministry and construction work. Unable to maintain the same energy that was required on construction sites, the Lord helped him channel his woodworking skills and creative energy into creating Plantation and Arts & Craft style furniture as well as unique crafts. He expanded his business and opened a custom framing and restoration store in Texas. However, he never pushed aside his love for the Lord and for ministering to others. Often one would find Reverend Kissell and his wife praying with customers and ministering to the needs of others within the community.
In many ways, Reverend Kissell was a renaissance man who had a deep and passionate relationship with his Savior, Jesus Christ. This passion was evident in his love for the church, his family, and for missions. Throughout his life he sought a deeper and more passionate and personal relationship with his Heavenly Father. He took the admonishment written in the Gospel of Matthew 6:33 (ESV) to “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” as part of his charge to lead by example as husband, parent, sibling, pastor, and friend. His loving wife, sons, and daughter-in-law thank him for encouraging each of us to also “seek first the kingdom of God”. While you will be missed on this earth, we know you are no longer in pain and are sitting at the feet of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, worshipping!
The family would like to thank the many wonderful caretakers and staff at Alive Hospice of Middle Tennessee for the excellent care and support they provided to Dennis Kissell and to the family for the last fourteen months. You are now part of our extended family!
A Celebration of Life Service for the Reverend Dennis Kissell will be held at Union Chapel General Baptist Church at 1125 College St., Portland, Tennessee, 37148 on Sunday, March 6, 2022, at 2pm. Due to Reverend Kissell’s love for missions and as an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to the missions fund at Union Chapel General Baptist Church (in the memo line write “Dennis Kissell Memorial”).
Arrangements Entrusted To: Sumner Funeral & Cremation Gallatin. 128A W. Eastland Ave., Gallatin, TN 37066. (615) 452-9059.