“Every morning when you wake to be president of Bethel, remember the Lord is asking you, ‘What do you want Me to do for you today?’”
This assurance was given to President Jay Barnes by his predecessor during a formal installation service on March 27. President Emeritus George Brushaber also encouraged his successor to follow Jesus’ example by asking people key questions rather than feeling compelled to have all the answers.
Other speakers included First Lady of Minnesota Mary Pawlenty, acting Provost Deb Harless, and Barnes’ grandson Max. They recognized him for his humility, excellent leadership, commitment to God, passion for reconciliation, and heart for students.
“Your power of example was and still is your greatest strength. It is the times as an introvert when you’ve had the largest influence,” said one of the president’s former Messiah College colleagues, Philip Lawlis.
Attended by trustees, delegates, faculty, staff, and students, the ceremony concluded with Jay’s address entitled, “Becoming Adventurous Christ-followers.” He challenged the Bethel community to give students a vision of Christ worth committing to, asserting the importance of helping students incorporate their faith into their lives and careers by living with integrity, loving their enemies, serving the marginalized, and engaging the world. “Being adventurous Christ-followers means having a willingness to live with the challenging and uncomfortable teachings of Jesus,” he said.
For invited guests, a luncheon followed in the Monson Dining Center. The day concluded with a concert by the Bethel Orchestra in Benson Great Hall, but inauguration festivities continued through the weekend. Some 100 students, staff, and faculty participated in a Saturday morning J5K Run (for Jay) and B2K Walk (for Barb) and then feasted on pancakes in the new dining center. Sponsored by the Bethel Student Association, the event raised more than $1,200 toward new playground equipment at the King Family Foundation Child Development Center in urban St. Paul, the First Couple’s chosen charity.
Concluding the inauguration festivities was a special Sunday night dinner with students, a Vespers service in which the Barnes shared their passion for racial reconciliation, and a Monday open house for Bethel staff and Royal Retirees.