The Top Stories of 2019

Goodbye 2019. Hello 2020. As we close the year, here are our top read stories of 2019.

By Katie Johnson '19, content specialist

January 01, 2020 | 12:30 p.m.

Path Snow

Goodbye 2019. Hello 2020.

As 2019 wraps up and consequently closes a decade, we find it only fitting to include a summary of our year through the lens of news stories. Our readers have spoken: You all appreciate stories about overcoming the odds, people who serve others in faith communities, and building renovations. Take a look at the top ten stories of 2019. 

#10 Standing on Holy Ground

Director of Clinical Education Greg Ekbom ’71 is no stranger to grief and pain, preparing and perhaps uniquely qualifying him for a lifelong assignment: bringing hope to the world’s forgotten. After his son, Doug ’07, became an amputee, the Ekboms partnered with a nonprofit manufacturer of prosthetics and traveled to Chogoria, Kenya, to fit amputees with new limbs and thus enhance their quality of life.

#9 A New Home for Bethel Seminary

In 2019, Bethel Seminary moved to a newly-renovated space at Anderson Center. It incorporates elements from the seminary’s historic buildings with multimedia features befitting modern students. Though the spaces themselves are designed with tomorrow’s tech-savvy learners in mind, they’re firmly rooted in tradition. With nods to the past and an eye toward the future, each space was intentionally designed to foster deep face-to-face connections while acknowledging the new ways through which students also connect seamlessly today.

#8 “That’s Not Normal; That’s Bethel”

Dan ’89 and Jennifer Goetzman ’91 have been part of Bethel’s strong community for years, first as students and then as they raised their family. But they still marvel at how the Bethel community supported them and their four children, who all attend Bethel, when they needed it most. Bethel rallied around the Goetzman’s when their son Ike ’19 experienced severe complications during a surgery.

#7 Katie Toop Named 2019 Alumna of the Year for the College of Arts & Sciences

Almost two decades ago, Katie Toop '00 was a physics major aspiring to land a stable, well-paying job and steer clear of the overseas ministry work that runs in her family. She had a plan, but God had a different one—and now her work is transforming communities all over the world.

#6 Family Begins Scholarship Fund in Memory of Kirsten (Frederick) Fumagalli '03

Fumagalli died last March at age 36 after a 27-day battle with colon cancer. Through the Kirsten Frederick Fumagalli Memorial Scholarship, her legacy will live on in the lives of future Bethel athletic training students. Fumagalli’s husband, Michael, says about the scholarship, “The goal is for a recipient to be selected that embodies the person of Christ that Kirsten was and continues to be. Recipients of this scholarship should know they carry a great honor in being a part of Kirsten's legacy on Earth. We can live confidently knowing the moment after she threw her arms around the Savior on March 14, 2018, He looked her in the eyes and said, ‘Well done.’”

#5 Bethel University President Jay Barnes Announces Retirement

Barnes became the fifth president of Bethel University in 2008 and will step down from the role on June 30, 2020. “As I reflect on my career, I am thankful to God that Barb has walked with me through the good times and the difficulties of life and work,” says Barnes. “It has been a blessing and one of my life’s greatest joys to serve and be a part of the Bethel community.”

#4 Bethel Seeks City Approval for Building Project

In a five-phased project over the next five years, Bethel University plans to build an addition to the Academic Center and renovate science academic space inside the Academic Center as well. However, the first step is seeking city approval. Long story short—we got it.

#3 Nelson Set for Extensive Renovations this Summer

Over the summer, work on Nelson Residence Hall added air conditioning, improved accessibility, and enhanced student lounges, along with cosmetic updates to rooms in order to match what incoming students want and expect as they begin their college journeys. “We hope when students or prospective families walk into the newly transformed Nelson Hall, they'll feel like they just walked into their Bethel home for the next year,” Associate Director of Planning and Projects Mike Lindsey says. 

#2 Proud to Live “a Different Story”

Act Six Scholar Tu Lor Eh Paw ’22 is a Karen immigrant and first-generation college student who sees life in Bethel’s tight-knit community as an opportunity to shatter stereotypes. “I am an immigrant and a refugee, and I’m proud to be one. I want people to know refugees are not scary and that they should be respected like anyone else. Like me, they’re just trying to make something of themselves. I’m learning to be faithful and put my life in God’s hands. I’m trying my best to not be scared, to speak up when I need to,” Paw says.

#1 Familiar Faces at Dunn Brothers Coffee in Arden Hills

In their second year in Bethel’s BUILD program, Kirsta Graf BUILD ’19 and David Kaetterhenry BUILD ’19 were required to complete internship hours designed to put classroom learning into practice, build their confidence, and give them a taste of life after Bethel. And Dunn Brothers Coffee in Arden Hills—which was opened in June 2018 by Greta ’12 and Adam Dvorak ’13, resident director of Bodien Hall—was a perfect place for it. The shop has become a go-to local spot for Bethel students, staff, and faculty, but the Dvoraks also have a secondary mission: “to invest in the joy of people,” Greta says. She describes the faith legacy in their family and how coffee, and the community and conversation that come with it, was a logical choice. “Working with men and women with disabilities just fits within that vision.”