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Notable Moments

  • The Emmental School was established in the Alexanderwohl community, 10 miles north of Newton.
  • Sept. 19/20 – The Emmental School closed and transferred its assets to the Halstead Seminary, which opened with a total enrollment of between 72 and 76.
  • May 23 – Bethel College charter filed with the State of Kansas
  • Oct. 12 – Administration Building cornerstone laid
  • Sept. 20 – Ad Building dedicated; classes begin
  • Arsenic and Old Lace – Joseph Kesselring, an actor in a slack period in his career, came to Bethel from New York to teach voice. He had learned there was a vacancy from his cousins Elda and Elma Ringleman, Bethel grads who lived in Oklahoma. Kesselring, age 20, lived in Goerz House with other young bachelor teachers. He was at Bethel almost three years. His play Arsenic and Old Lace premiered Jan. 10, 1941, at the Fulton Theatre in New York and ran for 1,444 performances. Its first performance at Bethel was in November 1982, with the second one scheduled for April 25-27, 2013. The characters of Abby and Martha Brewster were thought to have been based either on the Ringleman sisters or on Abby Ruth and Martha Goerz. A built-in under-window storage chest similar to one in the Goerz House living room plays an important role in the play.
  • Commencement speaker was Rev. Charles M. Sheldon, longtime pastor at Central Congregational Church in Topeka and author of the inspirational novel In His Steps (1897), the original source for What would Jesus do?
  • Commencement speaker was Rev. Albert J. Penner, class of ’27, pastor of Edwards Congregational Church, Northampton, Mass., the church of the late Calvin Coolidge; Penner preached Coolidge’s funeral in 1933 (note: commencement was apparently held outdoors, in the Bethel Bowl).
  • Buffalo BBQ – Adolph Rupp (University of Kentucky basketball coach and Halstead native)
  • October – Kansas Gov. Frank Carlson spoke at Bethel’s 60th anniversary celebration and laying of the library cornerstone (what is now the MLA); title of address: Church Colleges – Stronghold of Democracy.
  • Dec. 6 – Memorial Hall Series lecture with William Shirer (known for his radio broadcasts from Berlin during World War II; would publish The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in 1960)
  • The April 1 edition of The Bethel Collusion included the following: North Newton to be renamed South Goessel; (Bethel) President Kaufman says he will run for president of the United States; an ad for the Goessel Monestary (sic): Come and join our devoted union of Faithful Friars at the corner of 27th and Main (location of a men’s residence, no longer in existence).
  • Oct. 17 – Memorial Hall Series lecture with Drew Pearson, muckraking journalist and radio broadcaster
  • Commencement speaker was Paul Hutchinson, editor of The Christian Century
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 3 – Menno Simons Lectures, Franklin H. Littell, the father of American Holocaust studies
  • Jan. 27 – Memorial Hall Series lecture with Norman Cousins (editor of The Saturday Review for almost 40 years; credited with popularizing the concept of the healing power of humor)

    Bethel ran a dairy farm, located on the north side of campus about where the stadium and practice fields, Goering Hall, the tennis courts, the barn and Quonset, the Campus Granary and Memorial Grove are now, from 1935-55. The dispersal sale on Aug. 9, 1955, listed 23 registered Holstein cows, 19 cows and heifers and five other cows. There were also seven buildings to be sold, including the dairy barn/cattle shed, chicken house, hog barn and two silos. (The farm house had been moved earlier to make room for the east wing of Goering Hall.)

  • Jan. 14 – Memorial Hall Series with the Trapp Family Singers (predating The Sound of Music)
  • Goering Hall dedicated
  • Nov. 11-13 – Menno Simons Lectures, Martin Niemöller, German Lutheran pastor and internationally regarded anti-Nazi theologian, widely known for the poem First they came …
  • March 10 – Memorial Hall Series with Hal Holbrook presents Mark Twain (Holbrook, an American actor, originated the one-man show in 1954 and continues to perform it.)
  • Buffalo BBQ – Dan Devine (University of Missouri football coach)
  • Vincent Harding, a civil rights activist, Mennonite voluntary service leader and friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., first came to Bethel College as a speaker for Religious Life Week.
  • Jan. 21 – Memorial Hall Series with Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking on The Future of Integration
  • Buffalo BBQ – Bill Forester (linebacker, Green Bay Packers)
  • Buffalo BBQ – Rafer Johnson (decathlon gold medalist in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome)
  • Commencement speaker was Franklin H. Littell, acknowledged founder of American Holocaust studies; Mem Hall
  • Buffalo BBQ – Carl Erskine (pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers)
  • Buffalo BBQ – Cliff Hagan (forward, St. Louis Hawks)
  • Sand Prairie Preserve dedicated
  • Buffalo BBQ – Jerry Stovall (defensive back, St. Louis Cardinals)
  • Fine Arts Center dedicated
  • Buffalo BBQ – Bart Starr (quarterback, Green Bay Packers)
  • Nov. 26-Dec. 17 –exhibition of Marc Chagall Bible etchings; FAC Gallery
  • Warkentin Court dedicated
  • One issue of a spoof newspaper, The Liberty Bell (the name has a ring to it), came off the mimeograph machine, produced by Patty Shelly, Bob Mayer, Clint Stucky and others. (It mocked Bethel’s BELL program. BELL, which stood for Bethel Experimental Learning Laboratory, was one of the innovative educational programs popular at American colleges and universities in the ’60s and ’70s and was part of Bethel’s curriculum from 1970-72. BELL was promoted as a learning program for changing times that interdisciplinary, interpersonal, experiential and intercultural.)
  • Nov. 10 – convocation, Owen Gingerich, Harvard professor, author and Smithsonian Institution astronomer; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Feb. 12-13 – Bible Lectures, Krister Stendahl, dean of Harvard Divinity School; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Oct. 29-30 – Menno Simons Lectures, William Stringfellow, lawyer, Christian lay theologian and social activist; Krehbiel Auditorium Buffalo BBQ – Tom Van Arsdale (guard, Philadelphia 76ers)
  • Feb. 17 – Schowalter Peace Lectures, American anti-war activist Philip Berrigan; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 28-29 – Schowalter Peace Lectures, Dorothy Day, American journalist, social activist and co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Buffalo BBQ – Gayle Sayers (running back, Chicago Bears)
  • Jan. 12 – lecture on world hunger, Sen. James B. Pearson, R-Kansas
  • March 16-17 – Schowalter Peace Lectures, Elise Boulding (considered one of the most influential peace researchers and activists of the 20th century, credited with being a major contributor in creating the academic discipline of peace and conflict studies); Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 18 – convocation, Emil Haury, Bethel alumnus and the dean of [American] Southwest archaeology
  • Nov. 14 – convocation, David Brower, prominent environmentalist, first executive director of the Sierra Club and founder of many environmental organizations, including Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and the Earth Island Institute; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Nov. 5 – convocation, American feminist theologian Letha Dawson Scanzoni; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Feb. 28 – convocation, Jesse Jackson of Operation PUSH (Jackson would run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988); Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Oct. 24-25 – Menno Simons Lectures, John W. de Gruchy, South African theologian; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Thresher Gymnasium groundbreaking
  • Feb. 27 – convocation, Joan Finney, Kansas state treasurer (she would become Kansas’ first female governor in 1991); Krehbiel Auditorium
  • March 3 – convocation, comedian Dick Gregory; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Commencement speaker was J. Lawrence Burkholder, president of Goshen (Ind.) College; Mem Hall
  • Nov. 6 – Schowalter Peace Lectures, Daniel Ellsberg; Mem Hall (Ellsberg was the former United States military analyst who precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers.)
  • Dec. 1 – Peace Lecture, Richard Barnet, American scholar and activist who co-founded the Institute for Policy Studies; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • March 29 – Peace Lecture, Mairead Corrigan, winner of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Commencement speaker was Rosemary Radford Ruether, a pioneer of feminist theology in North America; Mem Hall
  • Aug. 31 – convocation, Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum, R-Kansas; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Nov. 16 – Peace Lecture, Richard McSorley, S.J., peace activist and Georgetown University professor of peace studies; Bethel College Mennonite Church
  • Schultz Student Center dedicated
  • March 6-7 – Peace Lecture, convocation, Kenneth Boulding (peace activist and economist who came up with the concept of Spaceship Earth); Schultz Student Center and Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 10-11 – concert, convocation, folk musician and social activist Pete Seeger; Mem Hall (Seeger visited the Alvin Beachy farm, home to an Amish family, near Hutchinson; Beccy Tanner article and Pete Souza photos in the Wichita Eagle, 4-12-80.)
  • April 17-19 – Conference on Faith and Learning with speakers Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Oregon, and Martin E. Marty of The Christian Century
  • Oct. 27-28 – Menno Simons Lectures, leading Latin American theologian Samuel Escobar
  • Nov. 17 – convocation, Richard J. Foster, theologian and writer on spirituality; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Feb. 15-17 – Bible Lectures with Pheme Perkins, Boston College professor and widely recognized expert on the Greco-Roman cultural setting of early Christianity, the Pauline Epistles and Gnosticism
  • April 28 – Joffrey II Dancers from Brooklyn College; Mem Hall
  • Sept. 14-15 – Bible Lectures, Mary Cosby, co-founder of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C., an ecumenical Christian congregation and a vanguard of the intentional Christian community movement in the United States
  • Sept. 22-23 – lectures with Waldo Wedel, Bethel alumnus and father of Great Plains archaeology, who spent his career with the Smithsonian Institution
  • Feb. 20 – Peter Schickele as PDQ Bach; Mem Hall
  • Nov. 1-2 – Menno Simons Lectures, American Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Commencement speaker was J. Lawrence Burkholder, recently retired president of Goshen (Ind.) College; Mem Hall
  • Nov. 29-30 – Menno Simons Lectures, civil rights activist Vincent Harding; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • March 26 – convocation, Tony Campolo, pastor, sociologist, prolific author and popular evangelical Christian speaker; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 18-19 – Peace Lecture, convocation, John Stockwell (highest-ranking CIA agent ever to go public; began criticizing the U.S. government after directing covert activity in Angola in the 1970s); Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Ad Building chapel organ dedicated
  • April 17-19 – Second Conference on Faith and Learning, with peace researcher and activist Elise Boulding; South African theologian John W. de Gruchy; Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Oregon; American theologian Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University; American Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder
  • Nov. 24 – Cultural Events Series with Karla Burns (Wichita native and operatic mezzo-soprano and actress who has performed nationally and internationally in opera, theater and TV; first black person, African-American or otherwise, to win the Laurence Olivier Award, Britain’s most prestigious award for theater)
  • Mantz Library dedicated
  • March 19-20 – Peace Lecture, convocation, William Sloane Coffin, internationally known speaker, social activist and pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 1 – Peace Lecture, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentine artist and peace activist, winner of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Commencement speaker was U.S. Rep. Dan Glickman, D-Kansas; Mem Hall (After Todd Tiahrt defeated Glickman in 1994, Glickman was appointed Secretary of Agriculture by President Bill Clinton, 1995-2001.)
  • Sept. 25-26 – Peace Lecture, convocation, Elise Boulding, American peace researcher and activist; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Jan. 17 – cosmology lecture series with astronomer Owen Gingerich
  • April 9-11 – Symposium, Peacemaking in the Middle East: The Role of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, with American feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether speaking April 11
  • Nov. 16 – convocation, David Brower, prominent environmentalist, first executive director of the Sierra Club and founder of many environmental organizations, including Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and the Earth Island Institute
  • Nov. 26 – convocation, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, author and academic with a focus on war, hunger issues, theology and foreign policy
  • Feb. 15 – Peace Lecture, environmentalist David Brower
  • Nov. 8 – Symposium on the Recent Russian Revolution with J. Lawrence Burkholder, president emeritus of Goshen (Ind.) College
  • April 13 – convocation, Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Jan. 15-17 –Arts Symposium, Libby Larsen, one of America’s most prolific and most performed living composers
  • Commencement speaker was civil rights activist Vincent Harding; Mem Hall
  • Oct. 1 – convocation, Colman McCarthy, Catholic peace activist and long-time Washington Post columnist; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Nov. 21-22 – lectures with Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., American historian, social critic and Pulitzer Prize winner whose work explored the American liberalism of political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy
  • Nov. 3-4 – Menno Simons Lectures, Martin E. Marty of The Christian Century; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Feb. 18-20 – environmental conference with Elise Boulding, peace researcher and activist
  • Feb. 26-28 – Bible Lectures, Walter Wink, American theologian and ethicist; Bethel College Mennonite Church
  • Greer Lecture with Alice Parker, noted American composer, arranger and conductor (particularly of American hymns and hymn tunes), who often worked with the great American choral conductor Robert Shaw
  • Nov.3-4 – Symposium: Gordon Kaufman’s Theology as Imaginative Construction, with Kaufman present (Kaufman, a Bethel graduate, was considered one of two premier North American Mennonite theologians, along with John H. Yoder); Ad Building chapel
  • April 18-20 – Greer Lectures, Augusta Read Thomas, composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • April 17 – convocation, reading by Albert Goldbarth, prolific American poet (the only one to receive the National Book Critics Circle award twice and Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Wichita State University) Other poets and writers on campus over the years: Wichita poet Jeanine Hathaway; Mennonite poets Todd Davis, Jeff Gundy, Raylene Hinz-Penner (also a nonfiction writer), Jean Janzen (Menno Simons Lectures), Leonard Neufeldt, Keith Ratzlaff and Elmer Suderman; Mennonite fiction writers Sandra Birdsell, Dallas Wiebe and Rudy Wiebe (also a nonfiction writer; Menno Simons Lectures).
  • Nov. 15 – Robert Shaw conducted, in Mem Hall, a 500-member choral group as a benefit for Bethel alumna Elvera Voth’s East Hill Singers at Lansing Correctional Institute and the Arts in Prison project. Singers were from Bethel, Tabor, Hesston, Friends, WSU, the Kansas City Opera Chorus, the Kansas City Chorale, the Newton Chorale, the Wichita Chamber Chorale and others, along with the East Hill Singers. Instrumentalists came from the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony, Fort Hays State University Symphony, Friends University Symphony, Hutchinson Symphony, Topeka Symphony and Kansas City Civic Orchestras. Shaw was an American conductor most famous for his work with his namesake Chorale, with the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
  • Feb. 11 – convocation, award-winning poet Albert Goldbarth, professor at Wichita State University
  • Oct. 29-31 – Menno Simons Lectures, Mark Noll, theologian specializing in the history of Christianity in the United States, considered one of the country’s most influential Christian evangelicals; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • January – American Mennonite theologian and Bethel alumnus Gordon Kaufman taught an interterm class at Bethel.
  • Oct. 2 – Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts (HBPA), internationally known a cappella men’s ensemble and prolific recording artists Chanticleer; Mem Hall
  • Nov. 17 – HBPA, internationally known women’s quartet Anonymous 4; Mem Hall
  • Dec. 5 – Peace Lecture, Rajmohan Gandhi, journalist, political scientist, historian and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 18 – Peace Lecture, award-winning children’s book author Patricia Polacco; Mem Hall
  • Feb. 18 – convocation, Jim Wallis, American Christian evangelical leader and author, founder and editor of Sojourners magazine, a founder of the Sojourners intentional Christian community in Washington, D.C.; Mem Hall
  • Fans at the Fall Festival football game broke the Guinness world record for flying discs thrown in the air simultaneously, with 853.
  • Feb. 11 – HBPA, Mark O’Connor, American bluegrass and jazz fiddler and composer, with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Bethel alumnus Daniel Hege; Mem Hall
  • March 31 – convocation, Philip Gingerich, internationally regarded paleontologist (as seen in National Geographic); Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 3 – KIPCOR Peace Lecture, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, American attorney, former lieutenant governor of Maryland and oldest daughter of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Fans at the Fall Festival football game broke the Guinness world record for most basketballs dribbled at once, with 1000 basketballs.
  • Nov. 3 – HBPA, American-Israeli violinist Gil Shaham; Mem Hall
  • March 7-8 – HBPA, convocation, Canadian vocal trio The Wailin’ Jennys; Mem Hall
  • March 14 – Allen Vizzutti, jazz trumpeter and educator, artist-in-residence; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Oct. 7 – Peace Lecture, Father Roy Bourgeois, peace activist and founder of School of the Americas Watch; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Dec. 1 – convocation, astronomer Owen Gingerich; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Feb. 10 – HBPA, British a cappella men’s ensemble The King’s Singers; Mem Hall
  • March 5-6 – Peace Lecture, convocation, Shane Claiborne, nationally known speaker and author and co-founder of The Simple Way, an intentional Christian community in Philadelphia; Mem Hall and Krehbiel Auditorium
  • March 17 – Bobby Watson, world-renowned jazz saxophonist, composer and producer, artist-in-residence; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 14 – NPR reporter and substitute host Jackie Lyden; Ad Building chapel
  • Sept. 29 – convocation, Sister Helen Prejean, anti-death penalty activist and author of Dead Man Walking; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Nov. 29 – convocation, Wayne Simien, former power forward and member of 2005-06 NBA championship team Miami Heat; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Jan. 16-18 – Civil rights activist and author Vincent Harding visits Bethel College for the fourth time as a speaker and resource person for activities in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
  • Jan. 18 – A packed house in Krehbiel Auditorium hears the only known recording of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Jan. 21, 1960, address in Mem Hall, recovered from a reel-to-reel tape that was considered lost for almost 50 years.
  • Feb. 18 – HBPA, South African men’s a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who first gained international attention by appearing on Paul Simon’s 1986 album Graceland; Mem Hall
  • April 12 – convocation, internationally known prize-winning composer and Bethel alumnus Paul Rudy; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Oct. 21 – HBPA, The Wailin’ Jennys; Mem Hall
  • Feb. 8 – HBPA, Chanticleer (despite record-breaking snowfall); Mem Hall
  • Feb. 21 – convocation, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Christian speaker and author, co-founder of Rutba House, a new monastic community in Durham, N.C.; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • March 11 – convocation, concert, Bob Mintzer, jazz saxophonist, composer and big band leader; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • April 15 – convocation, Tracy Silverman, the world’s greatest living proponent of the electric violin; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • May 6 – convocation, Margaret Edson, author of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit (Edson also attended the Bethel College performance of Wit that evening); Krehbiel Auditorium
  • Aug. 29 – presentation by Father Roy Bourgeois, peace activist and founder of School of the Americas Watch; Kaufman House
  • Feb. 24 – convocation, Carl Brewer, mayor of Wichita; Krehbiel Auditorium
  • March 30 – convocation, Robin Macy, former Dixie Chick and current caretaker of Bartlett Arboretum, Belle Plaine, Kan.; Krehbiel Auditorium

Mission Statement

Bethel College prepares students for meaningful lives of work and service through faith formation, the liberal arts, and practical experience in career pathways.