Accepts $500,000 challenge grant from the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation

LINDSBORG, KAN., February 14, 2012— Bethany College has accepted a $500,000 challenge grant from the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation to complete fundraising for the Bud Pearson Swedish Chapel and Welcome Center, a new building located at the heart of campus to provide hospitality for all who worship, visit, learn, and work in the Bethany community.

Construction of the Pearson Chapel and Welcome Center will total $3.5 million, of which over $2.26 million has been raised. The Mabee Foundation will provide $500,000 if Bethany secures the remaining $744,000 by January 11, 2013.

“We thank the Mabee Foundation for this tremendous opportunity to finish fundraising and start construction on this important project,” said President Edward F. Leonard III. Using principles of sustainable design, including natural light and open space, the Pearson Chapel and Welcome Center will house a chapel, campus ministry offices, and admissions offices. The chapel will include moveable features to host a variety of people, worship styles, and services.

“Bethany has spent this year celebrating many successes—our 130th anniversary, a fourth year of enrollment growth and retention, a vision for the future—but we’re not done yet growing Bethany bigger, better, stronger,” said President Leonard. “With the continued support of our alumni and friends, the Pearson Chapel and Welcome Center will be a key milestone on Bethany’s journey to 2031.”

This journey is Bethany’s 20-year strategic vision, which was part of a college-wide effort to Engage the Future. Following the economic downturn in 2008, President Leonard appointed two work groups charged with restructuring Bethany’s economic model and of envisioning Bethany for the 21st century. The fusion of imagination and creative problem solving with engineering and analytical problem solving produced Engage the Future.

Engage the Future is about transforming Bethany into a leader in the marketplace through an exceptional experience of seamless curricular and co-curricular opportunities. It’s about serving our students, staff and faculty, and community to the best of our ability. It’s about being a model of our core values,” says President Leonard. “The Pearson Chapel and Welcome Center embodies that vision.”

Funded by grants from the Kresge Foundation, Bethany has held two planning charrettes for the Pearson Chapel and Welcome Center to host collaboration among designers, planners, end-users, and all people associated with the building. These sessions focused on sustainable design, exploring Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, and ensuring users can exemplify and affirm the life of faith and learning.

The Pearson Chapel and Welcome Center project began in 2007 when Gerald “Bud” Pearson, a long-time friend of the college, issued a $1 million challenge to Bethany. If the college raised $1 million for the chapel and welcome center by June 23, 2010, Pearson would donate a matching gift of $1 million. Pearson, a former member of the board of directors, said in a letter to Bethany College and the Lindsborg community, “I fell in love with you both over 20 years ago. There were dark times and bright times. I believe you are now in the brightest times I have seen and the best of all is on the way.”

Bethany finished Pearson’s challenge nearly four months before the deadline. “There is a lot of excitement around the Pearson Chapel and Welcome Center because it represents so many important aspects of Bethany,” says President Leonard. “It represents a re-centering of Bethany on our Lutheran and Swedish heritages. It represents integration and community, which is the focus of our new system of curriculum and student experiences, Bethany Pathway. And it represents ecological and spiritual sustainability, which is one of the Missional Directions of Excellence that guide Bethany Pathway.”

Meeting Pearson’s original challenge was accelerated by a generous donation in 2009 from Lucy and the late Charles Johnson, alumni of 1944. The Johnsons named the chapel’s sanctuary after the Reverend Johan Seleen, a Swedish-American pioneer minister who was instrumental in the college’s early success. Seleen was the great-grandfather of Charles Johnson.

“As a college of and for the church, Bethany is deeply grateful for this generous and visionary gift. The Johan Seleen Sanctuary will help us honor our roots while providing a beautiful, larger, and more welcoming space for the worship and spiritual life of the Bethany community to grow,” said President Leonard.

For more information about the project or to make a donation, please contact Bethany’s Office of Advancement at (785) 227-3380, ext. 8270.

The J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation, Inc., a Delaware non-profit corporation, was formed in 1948 by Mr. John E. Mabee and his wife, Lottie E. Mabee, with its office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The purposes of the Foundation are to aid Christian religious organizations, charitable organizations, institutions of higher learning, hospitals, and other organizations of a general charitable nature. The Foundation continues to carry on its purposes, under the guidance of its Board of Trustees, as a monument to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Mabee. The benevolences of this Foundation are evidenced throughout the Southwestern United States and many edifices bear their name.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu/.

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