At the biennial Mennonite Church USA convention in San Jose, Calif., in July, Bethel College took a refreshing, creative approach to its college booth. Rather than following the established practice of giving away promotional trinkets to prospective students, the Admissions, Alumni and Church Relations Departments invited all visitors to the booth to give rather than receive.
The Bethel approach contrasted with those of the four other Mennonite colleges. Rather than spending money on give-aways, Bethel decided to give donations of $1,000 each to four mission or service agencies over the course of the four full days of the conference. Each day, prospective students placed a ticket symbolizing $1 in a raffle drum. The tickets were labeled with the name of their youth group. In addition, all visitors to the booth were invited to sign a large canvas, one each day, to be given to the agency along with Bethel’s monetary gift.
The $1,000 gifts and canvases will be presented to Hopi Mission School, Kykotsmovi, Ariz.; Mennonite Urban Corps, Los Angeles; and Goldensun Peace Ministries, Glendale, Ariz. On the final day of the convention, Carlos Romero, executive director of Mennonite Education Agency, drew one ticket from the raffle drum. The winning youth group — from Harrisonburg (Va.) Mennonite Church — has the privilege of choosing which mission or service agency will receive Bethel’s final $1,000 donation.
With a theme of “Find Your Space…Build Your Future,” the booth also emphasized service visually through a construction theme. Props included scaffolding, drop cloths, ladders, shipping crates and other items, all splattered with bright colors of paint that coordinated with the Admissions literature available.