Resolution for a Name Change
At its spring 2011 meeting, the Board of Trustees of Bethany Bible College approved a resolution to change the name of the institution. This was only the second time that the school’s name has changed since it was founded in 1945. In 1947 when the school moved from Woodstock, NB, to Yarmouth, NS, it changed its name from the Holiness Bible Institute to Bethany Bible College.
The journey toward a new name included hundreds of survey responses, more than a thousand data points, and dozens of meetings. Most importantly, the school prayed and listened to people who care deeply about the present challenges and future possibilities of this ministry.
The priorities for the name selection were the following:
- Select a name that will not present an unnecessary barrier to graduates desiring to take the Gospel to restricted-access countries.
- Select a name that is meaningful to who we are and what we value as a distinctively Wesleyan institution.
- Select a name that welcomes individuals preparing for ministerial service in other like-minded denominations.
- Select a name that is unique to higher educational institutions in North America and, if possible, unique in the increasingly-important realm of online education.
- Select a name that, preferably, is memorable, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce.
Historical Significance Behind the Name “Kingswood”
Kingswood, England, for those with a Wesleyan heritage, is a place of special significance. John Wesley’s experience at Kingswood dramatically altered his ministry and the holiness revivals of 18th-century England. It was here that Wesley broke with religious tradition and risked his own reputation to take the Gospel to thousands of people outside the walls of the Church.
Wesley was reluctant at first because, until then, he had agreed with the religious establishment that “the saving of souls [was] almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church” (Journal, March 29, 1739). George Whitefield, his good friend and partner in ministry, first crossed that line after being locked out of Bristol’s churches. Whitefield then urged Wesley to do likewise.
April 2, 1739, John Wesley climbed a small hill in Kingswood where he “proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation” to nearly 2,000 coalminers who gathered to listen. His text that day was Luke 4:18-19.
Today you will find two plaques in Kingswood. The first reads: “On the mount at the end of this path George Whitefield and John Wesley preached their earliest open air sermons in 1739.” The second plaque quotes Wesley, “Church (building) or no Church (building), we must attend to the saving of souls.” After that watermark day in Kingswood, Wesley refused to allow his own preferences or the locked doors of the religious establishment to hinder the proclamation of the Gospel.
Wesley quickly organized two weekly discipleship groups for new believers at Kingswood. Less than a year later, Kingswood was changed. Drunkenness, fighting, and cursing were replaced with singing songs of praise to God. The love of Christ and the power of the Gospel completely transformed an entire community.
Kingswood would later be the site where John Wesley launched the first Methodist school for training future leaders for the movement.
Wesley’s ministry at Kingswood emphasized bold evangelism, strong discipleship, and effective leadership training to bring the Gospel to those in greatest need. Pray with us that Kingswood University will continue this legacy, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping Christ-like servant leaders to fulfill the Great Commission.