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.

Illustration courtesy of Forrest Buckner

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.

“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.