Bethel Breaks Ground on New Chapel


Pat and Hugh Parsons, Dolores and Bill Rustenhaven and Helen Knight were among the honored guests for the groundbreaking of the chapel that will be built in their honor.


Bethel University broke ground Saturday, May 5, on a new 900-seat chapel. The event took place at Bethel’s main campus in McKenzie on the west side of the new Vera Low Center for Student Enrichment where the chapel will be erected. Spring 2012 Commencement followed later in the day.

     The chapel will be erected to honor six Cumberland Presbyterian ministerial couples and their service to the denomination, and it will be named Cumberland Chapel. Couples honored are: James and Freda Gilbert, James and Helen Knight, Hugh and Pat Parsons, Bill and Dolores Rustenhaven, Leroy and Andrea Muenzler, and Rodney and Pauline McCord.

     At the groundbreaking Bethel President Bob Prosser said, “the first fruits of education are the response to the call to need once one has received the gift oneself – this is the Cumberland Presbyterian in our character – it is real, it is true, and that’s why we’ll have a chapel named Cumberland Chapel.”

     Also speaking at the groundbreaking was Dr. Maribeth McGuire, a former Bethel professor and academic dean and a long-time Cumberland Presbyterian.

     McGuire pointed out how God has continued to graciously bless Bethel in ways that people can now see for themselves.

     “Bethel will finally have its chapel,” McGuire said. “a separate building denoting several things. First, it will serve as an important symbol of a religious emphasis on campus, and it will remind us that Christians dwell here, work here, and intend to serve the Lord.”

     McGuire also said the new chapel will emphasize the connection to the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination.

     “This institution shares a precious history with the mother church and must always cherish its connection, understand it importance and live in its light,” she said.

     “This will also be a place that says that worship, and work and study are fully integrated on this campus,” McGuire continued.

     “Finally, Cumberland Chapel symbolizes Gods’ presence among us. It will remind us on a daily basis that God is with us.”

     Cumberland Chapel is phase III in the Vera Low Center for Student Enrichment. Phase I, which included a spacious new cafeteria, a new student activities room, a new bookstore and student life and enrollment services offices, was completed in August 2011. Phase II, which is a new gymnasioum, is at completion with Bethel’s spring 2012 Commencement ceremony being the first event in the new space.

     Bethel University is a four-year institution affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Celebrating its 170th birthday in 2012, it offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees through a variety of learning platforms and from campuses across Tennessee.