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Presidential finalist speaks with students

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“Peace in the heart, fire in the belly.” That is the mantra of Dr. Gregg Chenoweth who visited Bethel College this past weekend as the candidate to replace Dr. Steve Cramer as Bethel’s next president. On Friday, April 5, Chenoweth and his wife Tammy chatted with students for about an hour in the Sufficient Grounds Café. After only a few minutes, Chenoweth’s passion – or fire in the belly – was unmistakable.
Dr. Gregg Chenoweth (background center with blue tie) talking with students at Sufficient Grounds on Friday, April 5. (photo by Ashley Albrecht)
“I want my time to count and count for things that matter – things that will last,” said Chenoweth. “That’s what gets me up in the morning…to feel like I’m pushing something along that matters.” Chenoweth proceeded to talk about his vision for the college and answer some questions from the group of students who had gathered in the Café. One might think that a meeting with the finalist for the presidency at Bethel College would consist of suits, ties and stuffy board rooms. While the suit and tie were still present, the setting was far from stuffy and the conversation was even farther. At one point, Chenoweth even discussed his favorite Disney movies. Chenoweth also took the opportunity to get more acquainted with the Bethel experience by asking the students what they think of their school. “What are your most treasured, fun Bethel traditions?” asked Chenoweth. This sparked conversation about Midnight Breakfast, gazebo Christmas music and the Oakwood/Manges football game. Over the next half an hour or so, the students went back and forth with the man who could become their next president as if they were talking to an old friend. Chenoweth thoroughly enjoyed the conversation as well. “This was a lot of fun,” said Chenoweth. “I would love to do that all day long.” Before he left for his next appointment, Chenoweth sat down with the Beacon to talk about his first impressions of Bethel. “(Bethel has) such a consistent voice of people who say ‘I love this place,’” said Chenoweth. “People really love being here.” Chenoweth also discussed his views of what a president’s role in the lives of students should be. “I think the president’s role with students is to spend enough time with them…to understand their voice,” said Chenoweth. It seems he already has a head start in that category. If there was still any doubt as to whether this was a down-to-earth man who loves interacting with students, Chenoweth quickly squelched it. “Our every expectation is that, a couple times a month, we’d have people over at our house,” said Chenoweth. “That could be a bunch of guys to come over and watch the Final Four or the Super Bowl, or a bunch of girls to come over and watch the Bachelorette…our intention is to know the students.” But don’t think Chenoweth is just saying this for show. That wouldn’t be very “fire in the belly” now would it? “(I want to interact with students) in the context of being able to mediate and share from students and with students the other voices of the institution,” said Chenoweth. Before Chenoweth left, he talked about the confirmation process and what he is looking forward to in the future. Specifically, he told a story of when he was woken up at 1:30 am on Easter and prayed about God’s will for this process. “I found myself in prayer, and even tears, laying out all these things that I’m thankful for and by faith God is going to do,” said Chenoweth. He talked about how, just as God did on Easter, He was making the old become new again in Chenoweth’s life. Because of that, there is no doubt in Chenoweth’s mind as to where God has called his family. “If we are elected, we plan to accept,” said Chenoweth. “And what excites me is that it is Easter in my life and, Lord-willing, Easter in Bethel’s life.” A vote between the Bethel Board of Trustees and the General Oversight Committee was conducted at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 6 to approve Chenoweth as the president. As of the writing of this article the results of that vote have not been announced. On Monday, April 8 Chenoweth is to appear before the General Oversight Council of the Missionary Church for a final vote. Make sure to check back in with the Beacon this week for full coverage of the announcement.
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