$1.5 million donated to chapel offices addition

by Peter Houston-Hencken|News Editor

Last month Whitworth announced that an addition will be added to Seeley G. Mudd Chapel after alumni donated $1.5 million for its construction.

The donation came from Barney and Joyce Beeksma, who graduated from Whitworth in 1954. The Beeksmas have had a long history at Whitworth with three generations enrolled as students, including current students senior Stuart Beeksma and freshman Andrew Beeksma.

“This building is dedicated to making the Gospel of Christ of paramount importance in learning and life,” Barney and Joyce said in a press release.

The construction will add classrooms and offices to the existing building. It will also offer spaces for students to meet and congregate within the Chapel.

The theology department and professors will move from their offices in Westminster into the offices provided for them in the chapel. The theology department is currently operating in the basement of Westminster, nicknamed “The Catacombs.”

Seeley G. Mudd Chapel will receive a structural addition that will include offices for the theology department. Photo by Peter Houston-Hencken.

“We do have people who come to apply to our master’s program who have questions about our location,” theology chair Keith Beebe said. “They just think we are hidden away. We’ve had visitors, speakers that come and do a lecture series who comment on this particular location as a place for housing a department.”

Some theology professors have struggled with having an office in the center of the building. Some of those offices have no windows and have caused feelings of claustrophobia, Beebe said.

Campus Pastor Forrest Buckner said the project will not be an expansion of the worship centers. The structure of the worship areas will stay the same; however, this project will include elements that will enhance students’ worship experiences, Buckner said.

“We are going to do some things to make it better,” Buckner said. “We will see more people, I think, in the end. We will have better screens, better sound. So it will make it a better worship experience. It will make it more accessible for more people than it is now. But it won’t actually be a bigger space for chapel worship or Hosanna.”

A set time has not been decided on when construction will begin. The $1.5 million donation will not covered the full cost of the addition.

“First the funding has to be finished,” Buckner said. “There’s also the actual design phase that has to happen. So those two together, both have to be completed before ground can be broken.”

The Beeksma family is excited about the addition to the Chapel and how it will provide the theology department with new offices and facilities.

“[My grandfather’s] words were that he wanted to see—I know what he told the theology department was to keep Christ at the center,” Stuart Beeksma said. “So I can infer from that statement that he wants to see the name of Jesus proclaimed more. Hopefully this theology center will do just that.”