Old picture of water fountain

For more thanĀ 70 years, Bethel University has been educating students with the same mission. Though many things have changed since the college first opened in 1947, the Christ-centered, academically challenging focus has remained steadfast.

Institutional Profile

Currently composed of 1,500 traditional and adult and graduate students from 35 states and 10 countries, and 250 full-time employees, Bethel University is in a city of 250,000 residents (Mishawaka), five colleges (including, nearby, the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University South Bend, Ivy Tech Community College-South Bend, Holy Cross College, Saint Mary's College), the second largest shopping district in the state of Indiana, 15,000 businesses, 50 parks, and Mishawaka's own renovated, three-mile Riverwalk development. Resort venues on Lake Michigan are 45 minutes away. Read our full profile.

Our Founders

The roots of Bethel University run deep.  Mennonite Brethren in Christ (MBC) founder Daniel Brenneman first called for a training institute in 1893. Then, for many years, J. A. Huffman pressed the case for a Christian liberal arts college, even suggesting the name Bethel, meaning “house of God.” Formal church approval finally came in 1944, and land was purchased in Mishawaka, Indiana during 1946 under the leadership of Q. J. Everest, Seth Rohrer, and Warren Manges. Twenty-seven-year-old Woodrow I. Goodman (1947-1959) was appointed the first president, at that time the youngest in the United States.

Events Through the Decades

Bethel College opened in the fall of 1947 with 94 students. During that same year, the MBC became the United Missionary Church. The Administration Building was completed in 1951, the first of many projects dependent upon sacrificial giving and volunteer labor.
Bethel established some 11 academic programs during its first decade, capped by the Teacher Education Program in 1955. Intercollegiate athletic programs were approved in 1958, with the first intercollegiate basketball game played in 1959.
1970s - 1980s
On March 31, 1971, President Ray P. Pannabecker (1959-1974) and Dean Wayne J. Gerber welcomed North Central Association accreditation. Bethel College grew steadily until it reached an enrollment of about 500. The college flourished because of what President Steven R. Cramer has called its “human endowment”—an extremely loyal, faithful, and hard-working faculty, staff, administration and Board of Trustees.
Bethel College continued moving forward under the presidencies of Albert J. Beutler (1974-1981), James A. Bennett (1982-1988), and Walter L. Weldy (interim 1988-1989). Among the more notable additions and innovations were the adult programs, the division of nursing, and the Otis Bowen Library, which anchored a new architectural style. In 1986, the baseball team won the first of what are now over 33 team national championships.
Bethel experienced a remarkable renaissance under the presidency of Norman V. Bridges (1989-2004). A dynamic team of administrators, repeated record enrollments, greatly expanded curricular offerings, the hiring of nationally known scholars, an aggressive, aesthetically attractive plan of campus development, and notable periods of spiritual renewal have helped make Bethel College a school of choice for many from the region.
In addition to a burgeoning traditional student body, adult and graduate degree programs have helped fuel the growth of the college. With notable new majors in Sign Language Interpreting, Environmental Biology, Criminal Justice, Philosophy, and Spanish complementing traditional strengths in Music, Theatre, Religion, Business, and the service professions, Bethel College increasingly reflects a national and international student body. The college also participates in a broad range of study abroad programs and annually sends out dozens of students on Task Force ministry teams around the world.
Dr. Steven R. Cramer was inaugurated in 2004 as the sixth president of Bethel College, and his tenure extended the pattern of strong, progressive leadership. During his presidency, the music department received NASM accreditation and the campus became more intentional in its multi-ethnic programming. Senior administrators worked to secure the long-term financial future of Bethel during a period of national economic crisis. Dr. Dennis D. Engbrecht continued as Senior Vice President.
A $6.9 million addition to the Middleton Hall of Science is just one in a long string of major construction and landscaping projects since the early 1990s, including Founders Village Apartments, the Middleton wing for Nursing, an enlarged Dining Commons, the Everest-Rohrer Chapel/Fine Arts Center, Wiekamp Athletic Center, Shiloh Prayer Chapel, the campus ponds and waterfall, Morey Soccer Field, Taylor Memorial Chapel, Jenkins Stadium, Sailor Residential Center, Miller/Moore Academic Center, Campus Store, and a new west campus entrance and a renovated Helm. A series of land acquisitions have shattered the myth that the main campus is landlocked.  The Elkhart campus and the nursing program at Grace College are two of several emerging extension centers for Bethel.
With the appointment of Dr. Gregg Chenoweth as the new president in 2013, Bethel College stands on the threshold of a new era, but does so deeply rooted in a past sustained by faith. “Forward, with Christ at the helm.”
Bethel College becomes Bethel University on May 6.

About the Missionary Church

The Missionary Church, Inc. (est. 1969)

The Missionary Church (MC), headquartered in Ft. Wayne, Ind., grew from the 1968-1969 merger of the Missionary Church Association (MCA) and the United Missionary Church (UMC) (formerly the Mennonite Brethren in Christ). The MCA had roots in the "Egly Amish" and the "German Branch" of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, while the UMC drew from a spectrum of Mennonite groups and the "River Brethren" of Ohio ("Swankites") and embraced Canadian districts. Both sides shared an Anabaptist history influenced by Pietist, Wesleyan-Holiness and Keswickian-Holiness movements, including the fourfold gospel preached by A. B. Simpson: Jesus Christ as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King. By the time of the merger, both were active in the National Association of Evangelicals; earlier trademarks such as the peace witness and women in ministry had faded, while elements of fundamentalism emerged. Believer's baptism by immersion remains important; church polity is a modified congregationalism. The MCA had been more centralized nationally, the UMC more district oriented. Both found great meaning in camps and revival meetings. As the names suggest, overseas missions were a driving motivation and a means of self-definition: missions and evangelism prepared the way for the imminent return of Christ (Mt. 24:14 & Mk. 13:10). Kenneth E. Geiger, former UMC general superintendent and National Holiness Association president, became the first MC president (1969-1981), followed by Leonard DeWitt (1981-1987) and John Moran (1987- ). The theological tilt is still generally Wesleyan-Arminian.

The merger saw some 273 local congregations come together, with 17,700 members, some 25,500 in Sunday worship, and a constituency of 35,500, with a congregational average of 93 members. Most U.S. members were located in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and California. Growth came slowly and was offset by the loss of the Canadian churches when they formed the Missionary Church of Canada in 1987 (then merged with the Evangelical Church of Canada in 1993 to become the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada). But an aggressive pattern of church growth and church planting in the 1990s led by the end of 1998 to over 340 congregations with 31,600+ members, 47,500+ in Sunday worship, a constituency of 72,000 and a congregational average of 139 members. One-third of current congregations are less than nine years old, over a third of the new churches represent a non-European ethnic heritage and there is renewed vision for urban ministries. New districts include Puerto Rico and Texas, with systematic coverage of the U.S. planned. Vibrant worship services in younger congregations reflect a move toward contemporary styles of music and praise. The Church Multiplication Training Center has in a few short years gone from a Western District project to serving over 80 denominations.

At the merger missionary outreaches were maintained in Nigeria, India, Sierra Leone, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, Brazil, Mexico and Cyprus, each with its own unique history and pattern of church-mission-church relations. National churches are autonomous members of the International Fellowship of Missionary Churches. France (1979) and Spain (1985) saw new approaches, then were followed in the 1990s by missionary thrusts into Kurdish areas (various countries), Indonesia, Thailand, Portugal, Russia, Arab nations, Viet Nam, Guinea, China, Cuba, Chad, Venezuela, South Africa and Germany. Some national churches experienced spectacular growth (Nigeria exceeds the U.S.), and several maintain notable training centers (e.g., Jamaica Theological Seminary). Numerous missionaries have also served under other agencies, often in other countries where there is no official Missionary Church presence.

Not every aspect of the merger went smoothly. Bethel Publishing expanded rapidly and entered the retail market, then collapsed, ceasing both publishing and retail store operations during 1998. The two historic central districts were gerrymandered rather than merged, and remained fiercely loyal to their respective colleges, Fort Wayne Bible College and Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana. Each school struggled and nearly closed. FWBC, after a brief hiatus as Summit Christian College (1989-1992), finally severed formal ties to the MC and merged with Taylor University, Upland, IN, becoming its second campus. Bethel College, down to 89 resident students (spring 1986) and facing bankruptcy, has instead enjoyed a spectacular renaissance and since gained repeated national recognition for religious revival, rapid growth, aggressive administration, academic innovation, artistic performance and athletic prowess. In some ways Bethel College embodies the current MC denominational trends toward higher visibility and transformed identity, but the college has simultaneously become a center for the recovery of denominational history and heritage.


Erdel, Timothy Paul. "The Missionary Church: From Radical Outcast to the Wild Child of Anabaptism." Illinois Mennonite Heritage, September 1997, 60, 59.

Engbrecht, Dennis. "Marriage, Memory, and Mission: On the 25th Anniversary of the MCA/UMC Merger." Emphasis on Faith and Living, July/August 1994, 4, 13.

Lageer, Eileen. Merging Streams: Story of the Missionary Church. Elkhart, IN: Bethel Publishing Co., 1979.

"The First Quarter Century" [Special double issue]. Reflections: A Publication of the Missionary Church Historical Society 2-3 (Fall 1994/Spring 1995).

Emphasis on Faith and Living. Elkhart and Ft. Wayne, IN: 1969- .

World Partners. Ft. Wayne, Ind.: 1992-1996.

Missionary Church Archives, Bethel College, IN

Stories Through the Decades

In the spring 2017 edition of Bethel Magazine we featured stories from seven decades, as we celebrated the college's 70th anniversary.

Hear voices of the past in these engaging alumni stories.

Through the Years



Following is a list of individuals of outstanding merit who were named emeritus at Bethel College.

Name Birth-Death Role

Jacob Bawa Salka


Honorary Visiting Professor: Religion

Otis R. Bowen


Honorary Trustee

Norman V. Bridges


President Emeritus

Donald L. Conrad


Professor Emeritus: Sociology

Steven Ross Cramer 1950- President Emeritus 
Ruth E. Davidhizar 1946-2008 Dean of Nursing Emeritus

C. Emmet Eiler



Associate Professor Emeritus: Education

Dennis Dean Engbrecht 1949- Senior Vice President Emeritus

Marvin E. Engbrecht 


Trustee Emeritus

Quinton J. Everest


Trustee Emeritus

Richard E. Felix


Trustee Emeritus

Wayne J. Gerber


Dean Emeritus

Charles E. Habegger


Trustee Emeritus

Robert N. Ham


Associate Professor Emeritus: Music

Ralph C. Holdeman


Trustee Emeritus

Michael L. Holtgren


Vice President Emeritus

Horace E. Hossler


Trustee Emeritus

Jasper Abraham Huffman


Dean Emeritus

Joseph H. Kimbel


Trustee Emeritus

James L. Kroon


Professor Emeritus: Chemistry

Ora D. Lovell


Associate Professor Emeritus: Bible

Lois L. Luesing


Librarian Emerita: Archives

Lowry Mallory


Professor Emeritus: History

Glen E. Musselman


Trustee Emeritus

Elliott A. Nordgren


Professor Emeritus: Music

Ray P. Pannabecker


President Emeritus

E. Kathryn Paschall


Emerita Library

Bruce W. Pearson


Trustee Emeritus

Earl A. Reimer


Professor Emeritus: English/Theatre

Kenneth L. Robinson


Professor Emeritus: English

Seth A. Rohrer


Trustee Emeritus

Clyde R. Root 1944- Library Director Emeritus

Vernon R. Sailor


Trustee Emeritus

Bernice E. Schultz-Pettifor


Professor Emerita: Education

Evelyn R. Slavik


Associate Professor Emerita: English

John M. Smith


Professor Emeritus: Biology

Howard H. Steele


Trustee Emeritus

Charles W. Taylor


Professor Emeritus: Social Sciences

Stanley M. Taylor


Professor Emeritus: Education

John E. Tuckey


Trustee Emeritus

Raymond M. Weaver


Associate Professor Emeritus: Music

William E. White


Trustee Emeritus

Ancel L. Whittle


Trustee Emeritus

Commencement Speakers

Year Traditional Non-Traditional
2019 Ian Victor Lightcap Ian Victor Lightcap


Katelyn Beaty

Katelyn Beaty


Donald Jeff Clark

Donald Jeff Clark


Virginia Mae (Schultz) Krake

Virginia Mae (Schultz) Krake


Gary Varvel

Gary Varvel


Richard "Dick" Foth

Richard "Dick" Foth


Bobb J. Biehl

Bobb J. Biehl


Jackie Walorski

Todd Gene Gongwer


William A. Hossler

Dennis D. Engbrecht


Sarah Mwakiuna Kilemi

Sarah Mwakiuna Kilemi


John Abram Huffman, Jr.

Timothy Paul Erdel


Dwight Robertson

Jeffrey L. Rea


Christopher Dean Fuller

Timothy Allen Rouse


David J. Engbrecht

John R. Mow


Paul R. Corts

C. Robert Laurent


Earl A. Reimer

Sue Morey


Dieumème Noëlliste

Wayne J. Gerber


Richard Felix



Jerry Bruce Jenkins



William A. Hossler



Otis R. Bowen



Eugene E. Carpenter



Michael W. Smith



Wayne J. Gerber



Donald L. Conrad, Stanley M. Taylor



Peter Nathaniel Cyril Spencer



Jacob Bawa Salka



Ray P. Pannabecker



Glandion W. Carney



Donald M. Taylor



John P. Moran



J. Duane Beals



Anthony Campolo



Myron S. Augsburger



Janette Steeves Oke



Mark O. Hatfield




Baccalaureate Sermon


Ray P. Pannabecker

Donald M. Taylor


Harold John Ockenga

Pronoy Sarkar


Edwin J. Simcox

Charles “Chuck” Carpenter


Otis R. Bowen

Leonard W. DeWitt


Laura Bornholdt

Thomas P. Murphy


Robert P. Dugan, Jr.

Kenneth L. Stucky


Russell G. Mawby

G. Glen Waun


John Z. Martin

Norman V. Bridges


Woodrow I. Goodman

R. Gordon Bacon


Ted Ward

Morris Joe Jones


Milo A. Rediger

William L. Whiteman


Dennis F. Kinlaw

Timothy M. Warner


Ellis Taverner

Charles Seidenspinner


Albert J. Beutler

Dwight M. Horn


Ellwood A. Voller

Laurence Pine


Landrum R. Bolling

Gerald I. Gerig


Roger J. Voskuyl

Jared Franklin Gerig


Lawrence Schoenals

Jay Kesler


Charles Habib Malik

Wayne J. Gerber


Alex Jardine

Kenneth E. Geiger


William W. Jellema

Richard S. Reilly


Robert Reardon

Donald M. Taylor


Frank Bateman Stanger

William K. Burgess


W. R. Davenport

G. Glen Waun


Stephen William Paine

Ward Montford Shantz


Delbert R. Rose

Quinton J. Everest


Ralph Earle

Bruce W. Pearson


John Abram Huffman, Sr.

William K. Burgess


V. Raymond Edmund

John E. Tuckey


Henry J. Long

Ward Montford Shantz


Evan H. Bergwall

James T. Hoskins


Stephen William Paine

William Hygema


Ernest E. Miller

William K. Burgess


Delbert R. Rose

Kenneth E. Geiger


Leslie R. Marston

Harold E. Bowman


Paul Stromberg Rees

D. Paul Huffman


Jared F. Gerig

Quinton J. Everest


Harold Barnes Kuhn

Jasper Abraham Huffman

Honorary Degrees

Following is a list of Bethel College honorary degree recipients, listed by date degree was granted:

Quinton J. Everest, Doctor of Divinity, May 26, 1974

Everek R. Storms, Doctor of Laws, May 26, 1974

Raymond M. Weaver, Doctor of Humanities, May 23, 1976

R. Gordan Bacon, Doctor of Divinity, May 23, 1976

Margaret H. Prickett, Doctor of Humanities, May 22, 1977

Kenneth L. Robinson, Doctor of Humanities, May 28, 1978

Otis R. Bowen, Doctor of Humanities, May 22, 1982

Leonard W. DeWitt, Doctor of Humanities, May 22, 1982

Stanley M. Taylor, Doctor of Humanities, May 22, 1982

Ernest William Taylor, Doctor of Humanities, May 21, 1983

Pronoy Sarkar, Doctor of Divinity, May 5, 1984

Donald M. Taylor, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 4, 1985

Dinesh Chandra Gorai, Doctor of Divinity, May 3, 1986

Mark O. Hatfield, Doctor of Laws and Letters, May 3, 1986

Janette Steeves Oke, Doctor of Humanities, May 2, 1987

Seth A. Rohrer, Doctor of Humanities, May 2, 1987

John E. Tucky, Doctor of Divinity, May 2, 1987

John E. Moran, Doctor of Divinity, October 16, 1987

Myron S. Augsburger, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 7, 1988

Anthony Campolo, Doctor of Humanities, May 6, 1989

Roger W. Otterson, Doctor of Divinity, May 2, 1992

Glandion W. Carney, Doctor of Divinity, May 8, 1993

Billy W. Kirk, Doctor of Divinity, May 3, 1998

Michael W. Smith, Doctor of Humanities, May 2, 1999

William A. Hossler, Doctor of Divinity, May 5, 2002

Jerry Bruce Jenkins, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 4, 2003

Howard L. Brenneman, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 2, 2004

Richard E. Felix, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 2, 2004

William Lane Craig, Doctor of Letters, November 7, 2004

Wesley L. Gerig, Doctor of Divinity, November 7, 2004

William E. White, Doctor of Laws, November 7, 2004

Joyce Newman Giger, Doctor of Humane Letters, April 30, 2005

Dieumème E. Noëlliste, Doctor of Laws, May 1, 2005

Belsazar Nunez, Doctor of Divinity, May 4, 2008

Timothy Allen Rouse, Doctor of Divinity, May 2, 2009

Millard Dean Fuller, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 3, 2009 (Posthumously)

Dwight Robertson, Doctor of Divinity, May 2, 2010

John Abram Huffman, Jr., Doctor of Divinity, May 1, 2011

Sarah Mwakiuna Kilemi, Doctor of Humanities, April 29, 2012

Frank Habineza, Doctor of Humanities, March 15, 2013

Wayne Jay Gerber, Doctor of Humane Letters, May 4, 2013

Donald Jeff Clark, Doctor of Business, April 29, 2017

Grant R. Osborne, Doctor of Divinity, May 5, 2018

Sammy Tippit, Doctor of Ministry, May 4, 2019

Chief Academic Officers

David E. Hoover, B.A. (Acting, School of Music, 1947-1948)

The Rev. Jasper A. Huffman (School of the Bible, 1947-1965)

Willard R. Hallman, B.Mus. (School of Music, 1948-1949)

The Rev. Roland V. Hudson, B.D., M.A. (Acting, College of Liberal Arts, 1947-1948)

The Rev. Stanley M. Taylor, Ed.D. (College of Liberal Arts, 1948-1953)

Wilbur B. Sando, M.Ed. (College of Liberal Arts/Bethel College, 1953-1963)

The Rev. Wayne J. Gerber, Ph.D. (Bethel College, 1963-1982)

Bernice E. Schultz-Pettifor, Ph.D. (Acting, 1982)

The Rev. Gerald Winkleman, Ph.D. (1982-1989)

The Rev. Dennis D. Engbrecht, Ph.D. (1989-1991)

Michael L. Holtgren, Ph.D. (1989-2002)

Paul Donald Collord, Ph.D. (Interim, 2002-2003)

James B. Stump, Ph.D. (2003-2008)

The Rev. Dennis J. Crocker, D.M.A. (2008-2011)

Bradley D. Smith, Ph.D. (Interim, 2011-2012)

Barbara K. Bellefeuille, Ed.D. (2012- )