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Bethel Remembers Alvera Mickelsen

Alvera Mickelsen, age 97, died on July 12.

Alvera Mickelsen, former Bethel journalism professor and first chair of the board for Christians for Biblical Equality, a Minneapolis-based advocacy organization, died on July 12 at age 97. Mickelsen was married to—and frequently co-authored articles and books with—A. Berkeley Mickelsen, a Bethel Seminary professor who died in 1990.

“Alvera was a loving, gracious, and passionate servant of Christ,” says Bethel President Jay Barnes. “She exemplified the best of our pietistic, evangelical heritage. She was fully committed to the authority of God's Word and the importance of studying it with others. When she was convinced of something from Scripture—as she was regarding the leadership roles of women—she was undaunted in living and teaching what she found to be true. In many ways she was a pioneer, and many women and men were challenged and blessed by her leadership.”

Mickelsen taught journalism at Bethel from 1968-1986. In that time, she pushed not only for a more progressive, egalitarian stance on women in leadership, especially within ministry circles, but also for the development of the journalism program. Phyllis Alsdurf, former professor and chair of the Department of Journalism, got to know Mickelsen personally and professionally when she joined the staff at Bethel. The two were also instrumental in starting Christians for Biblical Equality in Minneapolis.

“Alvera was a real pioneer in the way she applied herself tirelessly to the work of articulating a biblical foundation for gender equality,” says Alsdurf. “Humble, hardworking, and somewhat self-effacing, she was an excellent role model for those of us in the next generation who shared her passion for empowering Christian women for leadership in the church and society. She was a natural teacher who used her gifts of writing and editing to lay the groundwork for Bethel’s journalism major long before such a major existed. When my own turn came to teach in the Bethel English department, I aspired to follow in her footsteps. She had a quick mind, a ready laugh, and a courageous approach to her work, borne out of evangelical zeal. There was a kindness about her, such that even as she faced formidable critics on the issue of biblical equality, she invariably presented clear and convincing arguments drawn from her well-worn Bible—and always with a twinkle in her eye.” 

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. (visitation from 10-11 a.m.) on Saturday, July 23, at Gracepoint Church, 2351 Rice Creek Rd, New Brighton, MN 55112. Memorials in Mickelsen’s  name can be made to Christians for Biblical Equality or The Salvation Army.

Read the obituary or a tribute from Christians for Biblical Equality written by its president and former Bethel adjunct professor Mimi Haddad. 

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