For the past 70 years, Bethel College has been educating students with the same mission: to build “lives of commitment for leadership in the Church and the world … to challenge the mind, enlarge the vision and equip the whole person for lifelong service.” Though many things have changed since the college first opened in 1947, the Christ- centered, academically challenging focus has remained steadfast.

Journey with us through the decades and watch Bethel grow – from just 94 students and one major in 1947 to 1,650 students, more than 50 academic programs, as well as adult and graduate programs and 17 intercollegiate sports in 2017. Hear voices of the past as we celebrate the promising future that Bethel’s 70th year brings.


Enrollment: 94
Major offered: Biblical Studies
Major accomplishment: College founded

“[Marcus] decided to transfer because he was thrilled that the Missionary Church was going to have a college. He wanted to do what he Marcus Krakecould to make that a successful beginning. [For his graduation] they had baccalaureate and commencement — everything — just like it was a whole graduating class,” says Virginia (Schultz) Krake ’49 of her husband, Marcus, Bethel’s first graduate.

Marcus Krake ’48

Biblical Studies major
Former Missionary Church pastor
Read his Bethel story.


Enrollment: 282
Majors offered: 8 (teacher education program added in 1955) 
Major accomplishments: Construction of Goodman Gymnasium and Shupe Hall; intercollegiate athletics began (1959) with a men’s basketball team

Don Severance '57“The power of the Holy Spirit was evident in those meetings that were held … and that spirit continued through many years … there was both a joyous and a solemn respect for God that was evidenced in those early days that I think probably still has prevailed later.”

Don Severance ’57

Biblical Studies major
Retired Missionary Church pastor
Read his Bethel story.


Enrollment: 531
Majors offered: 13 (including Biology Education, Biology and General Science)
Major accomplishments: Construction of Oakwood Hall (1965) and Middleton Hall of Science (completed 1964)

Lauralee Nothstine '67“God had His stamp of approval on that phase of my life. The wonderful Christian professors at Bethel, the meaningful chapel services, the Missions Club and the activities at Bethel all contributed to a heart content on where God had directed me.”

Lauralee Nothstine ’67

Elementary Education major 
Read her Bethel story.


Enrollment: 409
Majors offered: 29; 3-2 Engineering program launched (1976)
Major accomplishments: College accredited (1971); women’s ath- letics added (1973); Dining Commons construction (started in 1977)

Maralee Crandon“The real sense, both spiritually and socially, was that we were called to this college to do a work that was building the Kingdom of God. This [was] something Christ called us to, something much greater than ourselves … that was the kind of shared community — communion, really — we were in this together.”

Maralee Crandon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of English (since 1977)
Read her Bethel story.


Enrollment: 473
Majors offered: 23 plus a graduate program in Ministry; Nursing program added (1983); adult program (MHR) launched (1988)
Major accomplishments: Construction of Bowen Library (1984) and second helm (1985)

Courtney Richards '87“Coming to Bethel really transformed my life in a way I never thought it would … I didn’t know it would take me around the world.”

Courtney Richards ’87

Psychology major from Kingston, Jamaica
International Director of Renewed Ministries
Read his Bethel story.


Enrollment: 1,467
Majors offered: 37 plus graduate programs in Business and Ministry; Sign Language Interpreting program added (1995); theatre major launched (1997)
Major accomplishments: Construction of Everest-Rohrer Chapel/Fine Arts Center (1996) and Wiekamp Athletic Center (1996/1998); men’s basketball NAIA champions (1995, 1997, 1998)

Shawn Skaggs '97“I felt a peace here … the spiritual life was tangible. Bethel had just gone through a huge revival right before I came. Things had started to thrive.”

Shawn Skaggs ’97

Music Education major
Financial Advisor at Edward Jones Nappanee Missionary Church Worship Team
Read her Bethel story.


Enrollment: 2,081
Majors offered: 50, plus graduate programs in Business, Education, Ministry, Theology and Nursing
Major accomplishments: New helm and entryway (2007); Pannabecker Science Wing added (2007); Bridges Hall (2007)

Jacob Ringenberg '07“We were given a foundation of how to use our skills within the context of our mission as followers of Christ — to make disciples. It was such a blessing to study at an institution that incorporated Christian principles into multiple disciplines of study.”

Dr. Jacob Ringenberg ’07, M.D.

Biology major
Practicing Physician in Sports Medicine
Read his Bethel story.


Enrollment: 1,639
Majors offered: 50, plus graduate programs in Business, Counseling, Education, Ministry, Theology and Nursing
Major accomplishment: Nursing simulation laboratory (2017)

Ivette Ferraras '17

“My time at Bethel has given me an invaluable foundation for my life aspirations — a foundation in my faith, a foundation for many relationships, and a foundation for my vocation.”

 Ivette Ferreras ’17

Psychology major
University of Michigan Master’s of Social Work Candidate
Read her Bethel story.