With the news of the closure of Bethany College in the spring of 2015, a group of people felt drawn together to dream about the possibility of a renewed model for young adult discipleship and spiritual formation. The model for a renewed program was presented to the Bethany Board of Directors and our group was welcomed as an official working group of the board of directors. We are currently referred to as the Bethany Vision Working Group. Over the past few months we have been presenting our dreams and plan for a renewed program to alumni, supporters, and church leaders. These presentations have been met with affirmation and constructive feedback, which has helped to propel the vision further. With God’s leading, we feel that our dreams are becoming a reality.
As part of our next steps we desired to hire a small staff team to dedicate focused time and effort into this project. Thanks to the generous support of several donors we have been able to hire such a team for the short term.
The team began work in early January. They have brought a sense of energy and passion to the Vision Working Group. They are committed to seeing the dreams of the group become a reality. Please continue to pray with us as we seek God’s will for this program through careful research and planning. We strive to honour our rich heritage of Christian education and discipleship and we long to share God’s unending love and purpose for the generations to come.
The Bethany Vision Working Group
ANNUAL CONFERENCE REPORTS
WHAT ARE ALUMNI SAYING?
Bethany College alumni stand out in noticeable contrast to other youth in Canada when it comes to being involved in church. In a survey of recent alumni, 94.5% of respondents indicated that they were connected to or involved in their local church, with nearly 38% of those involved in leadership! In contrast, in the new study Hemorrhaging Faith commissioned by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and written by Bethany alumnus James Penner and associates, only 23% of young adults raised in a Christian setting were considered “engagers,” defined as “those who still affiliate with a Christian tradition.”
In fact, of those who were most familiar with Bethany’s program, 92% agreed that their time here prepared them to serve in the church.
Although the majority of respondents were alumni, the survey was also sent to people with a variety of other connections to Bethany, both past and present. Overall, strong affirmation for Bethany College was received. For instance, 92% stated that they would recommend the school to potential students, and 96% agreed that Bethany’s mission of “nurturing disciples and training leaders to serve” is on target.
Furthermore, in response to the question of whether a Bethany education is worth the time and cost to attend, respondents highly affirmed the value of their education here. Eighty-four percent stated that it was worth their time and money!
This comes as great news for the College in light of having undertaken a review of these questions along with a push to focus and realign programs and academic studies accordingly. Of Bethany’s three distinctives, “Community” stands out as a strong memory for alumni. The majority of respondents cited “relationships with other students” and “time in dorm” as their strongest image or memory of their time here.
Four out of five respondents felt confident to explain all three of Bethany’s unique markers?-?Discipleship, Community, Transformation – to potential students. This indicates a strong alignment with what the College has set out to do with the message that the students take home with?them.?One?former student remembered “the feeling of being poured into and developed by the faculty, staff, and community” and another affirmed Bethany as having provided their “theological formation for ministry.”
Rick Schellenberg, an instructor at the College who was responsible for conducting the survey said, “As far as survey results go, these numbers hit it out of the park!” He’s right. These numbers appear to reflect strong affirmation for Bethany’s distinctives and strategic direction among its supporters.
So in a context of Canadian youth distancing themselves from their churches, Bethany stands as a strong beacon in the face of that reality, and stands as a great investment by the Christian community to prepare young men and women for engagement and leadership in local churches and communities.