Transformational Gift Propels Campaign Beyond Goal

The ongoing generosity of donors, coupled with the largest transformational gift in Bethel’s history, propelled the Called to More campaign past an ambitious initial goal of $150 million to an unprecedented $163 million in giving.

By Michelle Smith Westlund '83, S'21, senior content specialist

May 02, 2022 | 12 a.m.

President Allen

President Ross Allen speaks at an April 26 gala celebrating Bethel’s 150-year history, which became all the more memorable with the surprise announcement of the Called to More campaign’s remarkable progress.

On April 26, more than 300 Bethel community members gathered to celebrate Bethel’s 150-year history—and to make some of their own. Guests were expecting historical highlights, and those were provided throughout the evening in everything from the design of the space to the expertise of speaker Chris Gehrz, professor of history. Guests were also expecting to celebrate Bethel’s future built on its strong historical foundations, and President Ross Allen provided that vision. And guests were expecting a Called to More campaign update, which was shared by Collin Barr ’84, chair of the board of trustees. But—true to the campaign’s tagline—there was more.

Barr recounted campaign highlights: The Called to More campaign was launched in 2016 with a stretch goal of $150 million, well beyond what was recommended by advisors. Yet as trustees and campaign committee members fervently prayed together, they felt called to set the goal at that ambitious $150 million threshold. Barr then made the surprise announcement that although eight months still remain in the campaign, God has already blessed Bethel with $163 million in campaign gifts. This unprecedented milestone was reached through the ongoing generosity of many donors, as well as one transformational gift—the largest gift in Bethel’s history. “In 1969, the ‘miracle on Lake Valentine’ brought about our current campus through God’s hand moving in a dramatic way,” said Barr. “This is now our collective miracle at this moment in time, in 2022.”

The transformational gift is an investment in Bethel’s future, designated to be a gift in perpetuity and create long-term stability for the university. With it, Bethel’s initial endowment goal is fully funded. Barr cast a vision for continued endowment growth, as well as an invitation to join the momentum provided by this historic gift in propelling the campaign toward a strong finish. While the endowment and overall goals have been exceeded, the full vision of Called to More includes the sciences, healthcare, engineering, athletics, and the presidential priorities of enhanced student experience, faith formation, and enrollment growth that will expand Bethel’s kingdom impact.

Carrie Park

Carrie Park ’22, a first-generation college student from a family who immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child, was one of several student speakers at the 150th Celebration. She shared her gratitude for the student scholarships—supported by donors—that enabled her to attend Bethel. Park, a business major, plans a career in immigration law.

At the 150-year celebration, attendees demonstrated their commitment to the completion of the campaign’s vision by pledging an additional $1.45 million that same evening. “Bethel’s history is filled with powerful moments,” says Allen, “and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is another moment in Bethel’s history where God has blessed us beyond our imagination. Who knows what He will do next, in and through us?”

150 Celebration

The sold-out 150th Celebration gave more than 300 attendees an opportunity to rejoice in God’s faithfulness throughout Bethel’s history, including His recent provision of gifts far beyond ambitious campaign goals.

We're called to more.

Bethel's Called to More campaign is reaching unprecedented milestones because of the faithfulness of God and the generosity of donors. Join us in supporting future generations of Bethel students who will accomplish incredible things in their communities, their churches, and our world.

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