Bethany opens new Welcome Center and Chapel on Homecoming Weekend

By Bethany College
October 14, 2014

“When you reach for the heavens, the stars are thrown in,” said Bethany College President Edward F. Leonard III, at a reception celebrating the opening of the Bud Pearson Swedish Chapel and J.E. & L.E. Mabee Welcome Center this past weekend.

Several events were held during Bethany’s Homecoming, October 10-12, to mark the opening of the college’s first fully-fundraised building on campus in more than 30 years. President Leonard’s remarks referred to the college’s recently completed campaign, Engage the Future, that ended one year ahead of schedule and exceeded its original $20 million goal by $2 million. This effort impacted every area of campus from operational support, endowment growth, and facility enhancements; however, the most distinctive project included in the campaign is the new Chapel and Welcome Center.

The project began with a $1 million challenge offered to the college by long-time friend of Bethany and former board member, Bud Pearson, and grew into a $3.5 million building that houses the campus chapel, ministry and admission offices. The Pearson Chapel and Mabee Welcome Center’s location, in the center of campus, its purpose, and design are symbolic of Bethany’s focus on its Missional Directions, as well as its Lutheran identity and Swedish heritage.

The building, which followed LEED guidelines in its construction, is also an example of the college’s Missional Direction of Sustainable Living. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environment Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. Practices include things like keeping construction waste streams separate for recycling, installing bicycle racks at entrances, and additional parking stalls for hybrid vehicles. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Bethany’s project has even included a 3,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system that will either be used in the plumbing of the building or to irrigate the landscape.

In addition to celebrating the opening of the new building, Bethany is also celebrating this year’s enrollment of 717, the largest in 20 years, and the largest freshman class in the past 17 years at 188.