NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – As a way of expressing sympathy and sorrow with its sister college, Bluffton (Ohio) University, Bethel College students have planned a prayer vigil from 9 to 11 p.m., Monday, March 5, in the Administration Building chapel. Anyone from the community is welcome to come and pray any time during the two-hour period.
Bethel’s weekly chapel service held at 11 a.m. each Wednesday, already slated to focus on athletics and health March 7, will also provide some reflections on behalf of and prayers for the Bluffton community. Admissions counselor Lowell Wyse will offer some of his own thoughts, in writing or in person. The public is also welcome at this service, held in the Administration Building chapel as well.
Wyse is a 2006 graduate of Bluffton. Last year, he was one of six seniors leading the Bluffton College baseball team. Early Friday morning, March 2, the team was en route to Sarasota and Fort Meyers, Fla., for the annual spring training trip during the college’s spring break when its charter bus plunged 30 feet off an overpass on Interstate 75 in Atlanta. Four players, the driver and his wife were killed. Several others are in critical condition in area hospitals. Almost all the 35 people on board the bus sustained injuries.
Bluffton University president Jim Harder, who took office in October at the same time as Bethel’s president, Barry C. Bartel, is a 1978 graduate of Bethel College and a former faculty member. Several current Bethel students come from Bluffton and the Bluffton area. And the two schools are both affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. They also share the heritage of originally being part of one of the two Mennonite denominations that joined to form Mennonite Church USA about five years ago.