A history of preparing leaders, enriching students, and serving God’s kingdom

Growing up, Carole Spickelmier ’64 had a front-row seat to the kind of servant leadership at the core of Bethel’s education. Her father was former President Carl Lundquist. Along with building her own deep ties as a student and employee, she’s written and edited books chronicling Bethel and Converge history. She remains a faithful Bethel supporter and helped form a scholarship to prepare future pastors to lead churches.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, senior web content specialist

May 28, 2024 | 1:05 p.m.

Carole Spickelmier ’64

Carole Spickelmier ’64

Looking through family photos recently, Carole Spickelmier ’64 found an assortment of images that encompassed her father’s servant leadership. In one photo, he is walking with the king and queen of Sweden on Bethel’s campus. In another—taken about a year later—he’s visiting the jungles of Columbia to serve Wycliffe Bible translators. “That's a good example of being a leader and being a servant,” she says. “You have to stay really flexible to be used in that way, but it's a great way to live. It's a wonderful way to live.”

Carole’s father—Carl Lundquist, Bethel’s third president—played a vital role in shaping Bethel into the university it is today. His tenets of servant leadership remain central to how Bethel prepares men and women. That call to prepare faith-driven servant leaders is one reason Carole maintains close connections to Bethel. And as a student and former Bethel employee, Carole forged her own deep ties. She remains a dedicated Bethel supporter and has been very active with the Friends of the History Center. Carole has also written books on the history of Bethel and Converge—known as the Baptist General Conference (BGC) for much of her life. With her father’s position, she grew up very close to the BGC and Bethel. “I got involved in it because of my own personal history,” she says. “I've seen so much of the life of the conference and of Bethel just in my own living. It’s just part of who I am.”

After spending the first decade of her life in Chicago as a pastor’s kid, Carole and her family moved to the Twin Cities when her father became Bethel’s president. As the college president’s daughter, she found herself in a familiar position. “A lot of people knew my father and sometimes looked at me to see if I was behaving,” Carole says with a laugh. She describes it as an easy choice to attend Bethel. While her father’s position led to unique experiences, she usually tried to greet them with a sense of humor. A professor once lowered her grade to avoid showing preference, but another likely raised her grade later—so Carole jokes it probably evened out. For his part, Lundquist made it easy. He wasn’t the type to embarrass his children or tell awkward stories, so Carole strove never to embarrass him. “My dad was a wonderful man, and I learned so much from him,” she says.

Through it all, Carole loved growing up with deep connections to the conference and Bethel. She cherished her time at Bethel, where she was involved in numerous activities. “Well, I finally decided on a major before my senior year,” she says. “I just loved doing everything.” She served on student government, was editor of the yearbook, chaired the social committee, performed in the orchestra and band, acted in the theatre, and more. She studied English and returned an additional year to student teach and become a teacher. “I think I got to know a lot of people and a lot of different ways of studying and living life,” she says.

Carole also met her husband, Jim Spickelmier ’63, S’68, at Bethel. The two became close friends when she was student secretary and Jim was president of the student body. After he graduated, they wrote each other letters while he spent two years with the Peace Corps in Tanzania. They eventually started dating and married in his final year at Bethel Seminary. During their life together, Jim served as a pastor at Trinity Baptist in New York City; Kensington Baptist in Kensington, Connecticut; and Central Baptist in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jim also worked two stints at Bethel, first as campus pastor and then as associate vice president for Bethel Seminary Development. Carole served in a variety of roles. She taught in the Twin Cities and New York, gave flute lessons, worked for her father when he was president of the Christian College Consortium, and worked in Bethel’s Office of Admissions, among other roles.

After Jim retired, the couple wrote and edited multiple books chronicling the history of Converge and Bethel. As a history major, Jim was deeply interested in church history and felt it was important to chronicle. They also wrote Give First Priority to Jesus Christ, which honored her father’s legacy by writing about topics that were important to him—often using his own words. After Jim died in 2013, Carole continued writing and editing books—including one used in Bethel freshman orientation for many years.

Carole ’64 and Jim Spickelmier ’63, S’68 pose with their children and grandchildren back in 2013.

Carole ’64 and Jim Spickelmier ’63, S’68 pose with their children and grandchildren back in 2013.

She continued supporting Bethel. To honor Jim’s memory, Carole created The James and Carole Spickelmier Scholarship for Pastoral Ministry with the help of family and friends. It supports Bethel Seminary students planning to be senior or solo pastors because the Spickelmiers believe in helping equip people who possess the heart and skills to lead churches. “We really want to encourage people who are called by the Lord to become that senior pastor, that solo pastor, the one who preaches every Sunday, and the one who leads in the overall vision for the church,” Carole says.

The scholarship also reflects Jim’s love of Bethel and supporting students. Jim received a significant scholarship that helped him become the first in his family to earn a college degree—and later a seminary degree and Ph.D. “I think that's part of why he always felt like scholarships were so important,” Carole says. To Carole, supporting Bethel is a way to help prepare and enrich students while serving God’s kingdom. “There are a lot of Bethel alums who are significant leaders. And many of them I think, have started with some kind of scholarship help,” she says. Along with their financial gifts to Bethel, Jim and Carole also invested themselves deeply into the work of the History Center, which serves as an archive for both Bethel and Converge. “Its mission is to take the best of our past—our historical and spiritual heritage—and pass it on to current and future generations,” Carole says. “We have tried to do that, particularly through our books. And there are many wonderful stories yet to be told!”

Carole hopes her family’s connections to Bethel continue to grow. Along with Jim and Carole, her sisters Jill Jezierski ’75 and Sue Robinson ’79 also attended Bethel, as did Jim and Carole’s three sons: Mark ’02, Grant ‘95, and Eric ’93 along with Grant’s wife Jen ’94, S’19. Their grandson attended Bethel as a PSEO student and their oldest granddaughter is considering Bethel in her college search. “I would love for them all to come to Bethel,” she says.

Leave a legacy at Bethel.

There are so many ways you can leave a legacy that will impact Bethel students for years to come. If you’re interested in learning more about scholarships or other creative giving options, contact Bethel University’s advancement team at 651.635.8053 or click the button below.

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