Beeksma Theology Center dedication and Storm Family Dean of Spiritual Life installment

‘Oh, no no no, we are not going to go the route of the other universities and colleges, some of which who used to be strongly promoting a Christian mission and aren’t doing that anymore. We intend to maintain that mission and we have got a symbolic center to convey that.’

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President Taylor leads blessing ceremony for new Beeksma family theology center

Cambria Pilger| Staff Writer 

As the new Beeksma Family Theology Center construction is underway, president Beck Taylor held a blessing ceremony for the new space. The ceremony took place in the chapel on April 12 with attendees from the board of trustees as well as Whitworth students, faculty and staff.

Breaking ground on a new project is always exciting at Whitworth, Taylor said. It is a tradition to gather and pray for safety of those working on the project as well as for successful completion, he said.

Ian Busik|Photographer   President Taylor giving a speech at the blessing ceremony of the new Beeksma family theology center 

Ian Busik|Photographer 

President Taylor giving a speech at the blessing ceremony of the new Beeksma family theology center 

During the ceremony, Taylor introduced another gift for Whitworth’s campus ministry. The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, gifted $3 million to establish an endowed dean of spiritual life position. This gift will allow for expanded campus ministry programs and increased chapel staff. It is believed to be the first of its kind among the nation’s Christian colleges and universities, according to a Whitworth press release from April 12, 2018.

“I think one of the main focuses and part of why this is happening is to keep Christ in the center, and this ceremony is a good way to bring everybody together and reaffirm that and just to pray over everything to come and to continue to keep Christ in the center,” sophomore Andrew Beeksma said.

Campus pastor Forrest Buckner said the ceremony was a time to acknowledge God as the giver of all gifts and to take time to receive this gift from God. It is also a chance to thank the amazing people who have given these gifts to make the project possible, he said.

It is a celebration of where the university is headed and a chance to get excited about what campus ministry and life in the chapel will be like next year, junior Tom Dale said.

There have been many supporters and sponsors for the project. The biggest contribution came from the Beeksma family, primarily Barney and Joyce Beeksma, for whom the project is named. The family donated $1.5 million in total.

Ian Busik|Photographer   Crowd gathered to attend the blessing ceremony of the Beeksma family theology center 

Ian Busik|Photographer 

Crowd gathered to attend the blessing ceremony of the Beeksma family theology center 

Along with their donation, Barney and Joyce Beeksma charged Whitworth with the task of keeping Christ at the center of all that happens on campus, Taylor said.

Whitworth’s mission is to expand God’s kingdom through higher education. The recent gifts and chapel expansion contribute to that mission of honoring God, following Christ, and serving humanity, Taylor said.

“I love creating new spaces for students to congregate, to relate to one another, to grow in relationship, to walk through life together,” Taylor said.

Buckner said the new space will also allow more students to engage in campus ministry and have natural connection with other faculty, staff, and students.

The Seeley G. Mudd chapel was first constructed in 1978. Increases in the theology department caused the department to recenter to Westminster. Theology professor Jerry Sittser originally presented his idea for the expansion to Taylor. He had a vision to re-center the theology department back into the chapel.

The renovation will be finished by the beginning of fall 2018, and there will be a formal dedication of the completed project on Oct. 11, 2018.

The theology center expansion will bring new offices for more than 20 faculty and staff as well as new student spaces. There will be a new audio and video system, more restrooms and increased seating.

The ceremony ended with a prayer of dedication from Buckner and a congressional sing of “Amazing Grace”.


Beeksma Theology Center breaks ground

Ezekiel Pagaduan| Staff Writer

Whitworth University officially announced a $ 1.5 million chapel expansion last Oct. 25, 2017. The remodeled Seeley Mudd Chapel will become a new home for the theology department, office of church engagement and campus ministries. The money for the expansion was donated by Barney and Joyce Beeksma, and it will be named The Beeksma Family Theology Center.

The new facility will provide a bigger worship space and new offices for the theology department. “The university has been planning to do this renovation,” said Forrest Buckner, dean of spiritual life and campus pastor.

There are going to be three major elements. The first is the addition of offices for the theology department and office of church engagement, next is renovation and update of existing chapel. The goal is to have a new wing for students and faculty to use for meetings, Buckner said. This will also help to clearly distinguish between campus ministry and the academic department of theology. The new renovation will also provide more workable space for the office of church and engagement

Buckner said, the university has been planning for a chapel renovation for several years.      

“It’s going to be great for the experience of students who will take theology classes and who are involved in theology, as well as the church engagement. The new offices of church engagement will help Whitworth connect with the broader church community around the world and this has been beneficial to many students,” Buckner said.

This new addition will help the chapel be accessible to a lot more people, Buckner said.

Illustration courtesy of Forrest Buckner

Illustration courtesy of Forrest Buckner

“The purpose of building and renovating the place is to make a more warm and welcoming space for students, ministry staff, and people that will visit Whitworth,” Buckner said.

The extension to the chapel will be in front of Ballard and McMillan hall.

“I am happy for the theology department that they will get to have more space. However, I am a chagrined that construction is going on during the pre-frosh visiting that is happening because normally when they are visiting they see the natural beauty of  BMac, ... and the Ballard boardwalk will also be blocked for the moment,” junior Ballard resident. Chloe Taton said.

Barney Beeksma is a Whitworth alum and three of his grandchildren currently attend Whitworth.

“To my knowledge, my grandfather Barney Beeksma wanted to donate money toward the theology department because he wanted to see more of Jesus in our campus and he made the donation last year and now the construction has started,” senior Stuart Beeksma is resident assistant in Macmillan Hall, said.

“I have heard from a couple of people from the BMac community some complaints that because they love to frolf that this might interrupt their frolfing, but it is a worthwhile disruption other than the view disruption,” he said.

 The renovation project will continue through the summer and will finish fall of 2018 before classes start.