Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bethany Seminary surpasses $5.9 million campaign goal

By Jenny Williams

Bethany Seminary had reason to celebrate this summer--and everyone at Annual Conference was invited to the party. On June 30, Bethany completed its three-year Reimagining Ministries Campaign, having raised 112 percent of the $5.9 million goal in gifts and commitments. Conferencegoers in Columbus, Ohio, joined Bethany faculty and staff for a popcorn party on the evening of July 4.

Reimagining Ministries, which was publicly launched at Annual Conference in 2011, had its beginnings in the seminary’s 2010-2015 strategic plan. The plan called for a financial campaign to support both ongoing programs and new initiatives outlined in the plan itself. The goals of the campaign named ways for Bethany to help address current challenges faced by the church, those in ministry, and theological education:
  • $1.7 million in new endowments to support
  • additional instruction in evangelism, the missional church, and multiple models of ministry
  • new curriculum in reconciliation studies
  • increased access to Bethany’s resources and services through technology, a personal presence in districts and churches, and on-site events
  • $750,000 in startup funds for the aforementioned projects until endowment support is available
  • $3.45 million for Bethany’s annual fund over four years.
“We made the decision to initiate a campaign during the economic downturn, and our feasibility study told us it might be a difficult to achieve the goals,” said Lowell Flory, executive director of institutional advancement and gift planning. “However, constituents saw the value of our plans and committed accordingly. We made the 47 percent goal we had set for our initial lead gift or “silent” year prior to the launch. In the three public campaign years, we were able to surpass the total campaign goal with gifts and commitments. Estate gifts from a number of longtime supporters were crucial to this success.”

Campaign strategy called for staff to work with a National Leadership Committee comprising alumni/ae and friends of Bethany from across the country. The committee provided input on communicating the challenges in ministry education and how this campaign better enables Bethany to meet those challenges; they also assisted with logistics, identifying many potential hosts for meetings and participating in these events. Small gatherings in homes were favored for engaging people in discussion and drawing in those who may not have been as familiar with Bethany. Over the past three years, nearly 100 meetings were held in 21 districts.

The results? New emphases in the curriculum on missional church and evangelism and on reconciliation studies with four new courses and three new courses, respectively. Debbie Roberts was hired as the new assistant professor of reconciliation studies. Bethany is also increasing access to its educational resources through seminars and courses taught at more locations, webcasting of campus events, and new technology that can bring students at a distance directly into the campus classroom.

“We are exceedingly grateful for the sense of partnership that Bethany donors share with us in preparing ministry leadership for what tomorrow's church is becoming,” said Flory.

-- Jenny Williams directs communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Seminary.

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

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