SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. – Olivet University hosted a gathering for friends and alumni of Bethany University Sunday evening at the very same chapel where they once worshiped in as students and staff – the Craig Memorial Chapel.
Over 270 gathered for the event on the campus that once belonged to Bethany University and over 180 watched online as Bethany alumni came together to celebrate the legacy of the 92-year-old school. They also used the opportunity to bless the staff and students of Olivet University, who wish to see God’s work continue on the campus they now occupy.
“Clearly God is in it. There is no way humanly speaking that our name (Bethany) and our mission will have been ensured to continue so quickly. This was God,” said Dr. Jay Herndon, Secretary Treasurer for the Northern California and Nevada District of the Assemblies of God – the denomination that Bethany University was associated with.
Bethany officials had announced plans to close the school in June after years of financial difficulties and decreasing enrollment. They later approached Olivet officials, who were already looking into property in Scotts Valley prior to the decision by the Bethany board to close the school.
Officials from both sides felt it was a match made in heaven.
“The [Bethany] Board of Trustees rejoices that God has provided a worthy successor to continue the mission of spiritual formation and ministry training on the sacred ground of Bethany Park,” remarked James R. Braddy, District Superintendent for the Assemblies of God Northern California and Nevada, in a statement this month.
During Sunday’s event, many Bethany alumni expressed their relief in knowing that another Christian school would be occupying the campus and doing the very things they had done since Bethany first moved to Scotts Valley from San Francisco in 1950.
One Bethany alum said he was thankful for the deal as he did not want to see the campus converted into a mall. Others also expressed their gratitude to Olivet University for not only purchasing the campus but also for its willingness to keep Bethany’s history alive. Though Bethany University has formally closed as an institution, the school’s officials gave their blessings for Olivet to carry on its name, history, and mission.
“What I knew of Bethany was going to pass away, but God was going to raise up something completely new and I’m grateful because you (Olivet) are standing here tonight as an answer to prayer as something fresh and something new. We’re here to bless you tonight, we’re here to support you,” said Bethany alum Terry Inman, Senior Pastor at Harbor Light Assembly of God in Fremont, Calif.
Bethany alumni and friends concluded Sunday’s event with a special prayer and blessing for Olivet University.
“This is not a handoff, this is just an actual extension,” prayed Dr. Richard Foth, former Bethany University President.
“We pray for the millions of people around the world who at this moment do not know your name. Because of Olivet [University], they will…. And we join with our new friends and brothers and sisters, in praying and interceding in looking forward to what you are going to do.”
Following the event, Olivet University hosted a reception, providing another opportunity for former Bethany students and staff to reconnect.
Though Olivet University was granted permission to carry on Bethany’s name, history, and mission, plans on how exactly to incorporate a new Bethany into Olivet’s pre-existing structure are still in discussion.
Presently, Olivet is developing a website for the new Bethany at the old Bethany’s web domain, bethany.edu. Olivet’s initial aim is to continue Bethany’s mission through the web. Olivet officials have emphasized, however, that there’s still much in the air.
Former students of the old Bethany, meanwhile, are being directed to the Bethany Transcripts and Student Accounts office in Sacramento, where they will be able to obtain their transcripts (and pay their student bills). A link with more information can be found on the Bethany website’s main page.
Watch video clips from the event:
VIDEO: Dr. Richard Foth
Former President of Bethany University
VIDEO: Dr. Jay Herndon
Vice Chairman of Bethany University District Secretary-Treasurer of Northern
California and Nevada District of the Assemblies of God
VIDEO: Dr. William Wagner
President of Olivet University
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