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Bethel Gives Presidential Medal of Honor

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, delivered Bethel’s December commencement address. Afterwards, President Jay Barnes and Provost Deb Harless presented Anderson with the Presidential Medal of Honor.

During the December commencement ceremony, Bethel University honored Leith Anderson with the Presidential Medal of Honor for his service to Bethel and the larger church. At Bethel, Anderson has served as chair of the Board of Trustees and as a faculty member at Bethel Seminary. He’s also parent to a former student. He has also served as pastor of Wooddale Church and currently leads the National Association of Evangelicals—making great contributions to the wider church.

Anderson gave the winter commencement address, focusing on a saying his father often told him: “Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you choose, but you can only spend it once.” He noted the societal successes the graduates face—with worldwide poverty lessening, peace in the Western Hemisphere, and advancements in medicine. At the same time, he said, their generation also faces significant challenges, including terrorism, climate change, racism, and nuclear threats. “We are called to spend the coin of life in the best of times and the worst of times,” he said. “The challenge of Jesus is to live out the Word of God in your generation and every generation.”

After his address, Bethel University President Jay Barnes honored Anderson with the Presidential Medal of Honor. “On rare occasions in Bethel’s history, the president and Board of Trustees have chosen to bestow a special honor on someone. Today is one of those days,” Barnes said.

This is only the third time in Bethel’s history that an individual has been given the medal. Bethel University President Emeritus George Brushaber presented the medal to Bethel Seminary alumnus Alfred Babington-Johnson, president and CEO of Stairstep Foundation in Minneapolis, and the late Gunnar Krohnholm, former Bethel board member and employee. 

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