NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For the 23rd year, Bethel College students, faculty and staff invite the community to join them in the Lighting of the Green, an Advent season tradition.
The event will take place on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. on the college Green, in the center of the campus.
Participants form a circle on the sidewalk around the Green, holding unlit candles that are supplied. Most of the campus lights are turned off but there will be ushers with flashlights to help people find their places in the dark. It takes about 250 people to entirely circle the Green.
After some singing of Christmas carols, led by Professor of Bible and Religion Patty Shelly, and reading of Scripture passages, the candles will be lighted 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 sing one or two additional carols. Finally, everyone is invited to the dining hall for cookies and hot drinks.
Max Wedel, senior from Tucson, Ariz., will be participating in his fourth Lighting of the Green. “It’s a great Bethel tradition,” he says. “It doesn’t feel quite like Christmas until we’ve had the Lighting of the Green.”
The Lighting of the Green began in 1986 when a Bethel student suggested a candlelit vigil around the Green as an expression of peace and light at Christmas. After experiencing what was planned as a one-time event, so many people said it needed to become a Bethel tradition that it has been carried on ever since.
“Every year as we stand in the dark, I wonder if there will really be enough people to encircle the Green,” Shelly says. “And every year, the circle of light slowly appears as candles are lit around the Green. I think I have missed only three of these, and it never gets old – I am always inspired!”
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.