Faithful to Our PURPOSE

by | Jul 3, 2024

Part of Bethel’s mission is to be a community of learners building lives of commitment for leadership in the Church and world. For more than 75 years, this training has been taking place on campus in Mishawaka, Ind. In recent years, Bethel has emphasized reaching beyond its physical borders through educational partnerships to build a greater impact around the world, while remaining unquestionably Christ-centered.

As its founding denomination, the Missionary Church has always been a significant partner with Bethel University. Under President Barb Bellefeuille’s leadership, the school has made stronger efforts to affirm and build upon this partnership. They’ve done this through hosting events such as Missionary Church Day at Bethel, promoting denomination-specific scholarships, inviting Missionary Church President Rodney Arnold to speak in chapel and providing content for Bethel Day with the Missionary Church the past two years.

Kristi Monesmith, academic director of AG-X, talks with an extension studies student at BU@NMC.

Another way Bethel is partnering with the church to invest in leaders beyond campus is through the Extension Studies program (BU-X). Bethel has established a network of locations around the country where students can take Bethel courses while staying involved in their local community, church or organization.

Most recently, Bethel has joined with the Africa Gospel Church and Nappanee Missionary Church (NMC) to offer Bethel’s master’s in ministry program for pastors serving in one of the largest denominations in Kenya. This program allows African pastors to remain in their communities while gaining a master’s degree from Bethel.

“I’m thrilled that [we] are partnering together to train pastors that will not only impact Kenya but East Africa,” says Dave Engbrecht, NMC pastor at large and Bethel trustee. “There’s amazing power in partnerships. This partnership has global multiplication written all over it.”

From left – Rev. Dave Engbrecht, Bishop Robert Langat, Ph.D., and Kent Eby, Ph.D., sign the Memorandum of Understanding, establishing the partnership.

After leaders from all three groups signed a memorandum of understanding last fall, the program launched with 10 pastors in the Africa Gospel Church denomination who are working toward a Bethel master’s degree. They will take part in online courses, with the plan to have Associate Professor of Missions Kent Eby, Ph.D., teach one or two courses locally in Africa each summer with instruction specific to the Africa Gospel Church.

“The nice thing about the MA in Ministry program being all online,” says Eby, “is that they can stay in their communities, and as they are learning they can pour that back into their communities. So, it keeps them relevant where they are, but also it builds them up and equips them to do more.”

As Bethel continues to develop these partnerships and others like them, the university remains committed to being unwaveringly Christ-centered in its drive to educate leaders to take their place in the Church and in the world.

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(Featured Image: The congregation of Summit Church in Niles, Mich., prays over President Bellefeuille during Bethel Day with the Missionary Church.)