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Bethel observes 33rd Lighting of the Green

December 7th, 2018

Lighting of the Green 2017

The Bethel community gathered Dec. 9 to help surround the Green with candlelight and welcome in the Advent season.





The Lighting of the Green at Bethel College is an annual tradition dating back to 1986.

This year, the Lighting of the Green takes place Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. around the Green in the center of campus, coordinated by Bethel’s student chaplains.

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

For Bethel’s Lighting of the Green, most electric lights on campus are turned off and Bethel students, staff, faculty and community members gather with unlit candles on the sidewalk around the Green. It takes about 250 people to form a complete circle.

They listen to Advent Scripture passages and a brief meditation, and sing Christmas carols.

The candles are lit to make a “wreath” of light, followed by everyone converging to the middle of the Green to form a “Christ candle” and sing one more carol.

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.

Campus Pastor Peter Goerzen has been participating in the Lighting of the Green for more than 25 years, starting when he was a boy accompanying his father, Les Goerzen, Bethel physical plant director, as he would go around campus turning off building and outdoor lights.

The Lighting of the Green has come to be Goerzen's favorite Bethel College tradition, which he now shares with his wife Katherine and two children, Sophia and Nathan.

“[Lighting the Green] expresses much of what makes Bethel a special place -- an inclusive community, with its identity rooted in a faith tradition committed to the hope and joy of the Light that still shines in the darkness,” Goerzen says.

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, both for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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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.