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Annual Lighting of the Green marks start of Advent

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College welcomes the season of Advent with the 29th annual Lighting of the Green.

The community is invited to join Bethel faculty, staff and students at the center of campus Dec. 7 at 8 p.m.

Many Western Christian churches, including the Mennonite Church USA denomination with which Bethel is affiliated, observe this season of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ on Dec. 25.

For the Lighting of the Green, most electric lights on campus are turned off . Everyone gathers with unlit candles on the sidewalk around the Green. It takes about 250 people to form a complete circle.

The simple service consists of singing several Christmas carols, listening to the reading of Advent Scripture passages and lighting candles to form “a wreath around the Green.”

At the end of the service, everyone walks into the middle of the Green with their lights, to create a “Christ candle” as the lights come closer together, and to sing one or two more carols.

Campus pastor Peter Goerzen has been part of the “Lighting of the Green” for much of its history, beginning when he was a boy and would accompany his father, Les Goerzen, Bethel director of maintenance, as he went around campus extinguishing lights.

Later, as a Bethel student, Peter wrote much of the liturgy that is now part of the Lighting of the Green tradition.

In 2014, he’s coordinating the event for the first time in his new role, and “looking forward to it again this year,” he says.

The service lasts about 20 minutes. Afterward, everyone is invited to the cafeteria for cookies and hot drinks.

All are welcome to join in the Lighting of the Green, an activity well-suited to families with children. For more information, call 316-284-5356.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.