Campus News

Why is WCAC so Laid Back?

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Every spring semester, Bethel College hosts the World Christian Action Conference (WCAC) chapel series. Normally this comes with class cancellations, evening chapels and an announcement of one of Bethel’s services that we can use to grow in our faith as Christians. But the previous two conferences, 2016 and 2017, seem to have taken a more experiential approach than previous years. Capture Previously, a WCAC event week consisted of 6 chapels, 5 of which were required. Shawn Holtgren, vice president of student development, spoke about what prompted the changes. “It was suggested that we reduce the number of chapel service where students were being ‘talked at’ in order to include some new, interactive elements where students could ‘engage in’ conversations and activities related to God's mission for the world,” he wrote in an email about the new schedule. These “new, interactive elements” include ethnic meals and a service project for students to interact with the community around them. The meals were prepared by faculty and staff members that lived or grew up in foreign countries. These meals were eaten in the faculty/staff member’s home by students who could ask questions about the faculty/staff member’s experience with that country’s culture. In addition, this year’s WCAC included the addition of new discipleship groups. I had the opportunity to sit down with resident director John Kaehr to discuss what his plans are for these groups. “They’re not just come join this discipleship group, have a good experience doing a Bible study and then you’re done,” he said. “We’re really seeking the Biblical concept of multiplication.” Kaehr went on to share that his hope is for students who attend these discipleship groups to actively help other students and community members in their walk with Christ and for the topics discussed in chapel to be re-discussed in these groups. The transition to this style of WCAC has not been without its bumps, however, as several classes and extracurricular events were cancelled to make room for extra chapel services that weren’t scheduled. When these cancellations came to the attention of the administration, Dr. Barb Bellefeuille, vice president for academic services, had this to say: “There are no evening sessions required and so nothing should be cancelled,” she wrote. “I sent out a reminder about that last week (week of January 16) to all faculty.” However, the schedule for this year’s WCAC was not updated in the academic calendar that students use for our registration. This academic calendar is what the professors use when planning their syllabi and extracurricular events. “I missed the memo telling us that was wrong, apparently,” said Dr. Christian Davis. Despite these communication hiccups, the student life department’s plans for WCAC have seen progress. It remains to be seen if communication improves for next year.
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