July 29, 2013 | 11:23 a.m.
By Tricia Theurer, Communications Specialist
The Bethel Seminary Alumni Council unanimously recommended Paul Berthiaume as 2013 Bethel Seminary Alumnus of the Year, and honored him in May with a surprise presentation at his church. Berthiaume is a 2000 graduate of Bethel Seminary St. Paul with a master of divinity degree. He became a believer in high school and started a church at age 19. Ten years later, in 2001, he and his wife Whitney founded Jacob’s Well in Eau Claire, Wis., which has a flourishing, high-impact ministry in the Chippewa Valley and beyond. The church has grown from 200 participants to a congregation of nearly 2,000 attendees.
More than 1,000 adults participate in weekly small groups, and 400+ children and nearly 200 youth attend weekly ministry programs. Besides planting Jacob’s Well, the Berthiaumes, who have five children ranging in age from 10-17, have been instrumental in planting several other churches in the valley and around Wisconsin. And Berthiaume has become a ministry coach to several church planters.
“Paul credits Bethel Seminary with giving him ‘a theology that works,’” says Brian Doten ’81, S’87, senior pastor at Northwood Community Church in Maple Grove, Minn., and chair of the Seminary Alumni Council. “His Bethel education and relationships with faculty were formative, launching him into a very fruitful ministry in planting and pastoring Jacob’s Well.”
During the award presentation, Berthiaume said that “Bethel saved my life.” He continued, “I am beyond honored to be the [seminary] alumnus of the year. I love Bethel because when I went to Bethel I was at a low point, and the journey at Bethel saved my faith. They [seminary professors] taught me a whole new way to think about God, the Bible, and His church.”
Ralph Gustafson, vice president for constituent relations, says that Berthiaume was chosen because he exemplifies Bethel’s Christ-centered mission and values. “He is being used by God as a change-agent in hundreds of lives and in the community of Eau Claire,” explains Gustafson. “He teaches and preaches God’s Word with creativity, joy, power, and humility. He is a servant leader with a heart for those who are seeking Christ. His strong faith and character encourage and motivate others to follow Jesus.”