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Royal Heritage Society Dinner Looks to the Future of the Bethel Seminary

Annual Royal Heritage Society Dinner honors donors and explores the impact of recent changes at Bethel Seminary.

By Aiyanna Klaphake '20

May 14, 2019 | 2 p.m.

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Royal Heritage Society Dinner 2019

On May 10, nearly 340 distinguished donors and members of the Royal Heritage Society gathered in the Robertson Center Gym to recognize the overwhelming generosity of those supporting Bethel and its mission.

The evening began with a punch reception, allowing attendees to connect with fellow donors and reminisce about their own Bethel experiences before settling down for a catered dinner from Sodexo and music provided by student musician Hannah Prange '19.

The dinner, hosted by the Office of Planned Giving, began as Associate Vice President of Planned Giving Dan Wiersum welcomed the guests, thanked them for their dedication to quality Christian education at Bethel, and explained the purpose of the dinner. "We want to recognize legacy donors. You’ve elevated Bethel University to a family member with your generosity," Wiersum said, adding that the dinner was furthermore intended to encourage current long-term donors to join the Royal Heritage Society.

Before opening the evening with a word of prayer, student athlete Cassidy Abbott '20 shared her family's story of dealing with a difficult illness, emphasizing the support she received from Bethel and from her softball team. "Throughout this journey, I've felt the love of the Bethel community," Abbott said. "Support from the team bridged the gap for me… It wasn’t just my battle or my family's battle. It was my team's battle." Abbott thanked the guests for their support of an institution that managed to be there for her family in an incredible way. Abbott's softball coach, Penny Foore, also shared a few words about the impact of Abbott’s experience and Bethel’s response. "The Bethel community is what makes this place so special," she said.

"We are so grateful to the people who pray, give, and help us defend Bethel."

— President Jay Barnes

After the dinner was served, Peter Vogt, dean of Bethel Seminary, shared an update on the Seminary's transition to the Anderson Center, pointing out the Seminary's future focus on providing degrees online. Vogt emphasized that although the way in which students are gaining their education is changing, the quality of that education is consistent with Bethel's traditionally high standards. "Bethel has undergone significant change in the past, but change is inevitable, "Vogt said. "What motivates me is the opportunity amidst the change… because our commitment to Bethel's calling… that has not changed."

Vogt's thoughts were supported by Professor David Clark, who shared a sample video lecture with the guests to provide them with a taste of life in the online classroom. Online classes allow students to gain an education with increased affordability, efficiency, and flexibility, which has resulted in increased seminary enrollment rates.

Clark explained how Bethel partners with local churches to enable students to gain ministry experience and mentorship within their own church, even as they pursue an online degree from Bethel Seminary. Partner churches can also offer scholarships that Bethel will match in order to make tuition as manageable as possible.

"Seminary education is more important than ever," Clark added. "It's critical to know God's Word in today’s world… Partner with us, and you are the ones sending out those pastors and leaders."

President Jay Barnes closed the evening with final thanks to attendees. "We are so grateful to the people who pray, give, and help us defend Bethel," President Barnes said. Guests were then invited to enjoy the following Classics in the Great Hall concert.

Join the Royal Heritage Society.

Your gifts go towards facilitating spiritual, professional, academic, and personal growth for students by supporting Bethel in putting Christ at the center of education. Partner with us to prepare the next generation of leaders by joining the Royal Heritage Society’s distinguished membership.

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