The General Board of The Wesleyan Church and the Province of New Brunswick (Canada) gave approval this week for Bethany Bible College to become Kingswood University. This is only the second time the college has changed names since its founding in 1945.

The journey toward a new name included hundreds of survey responses and dozens of meetings. After researching possibilities and listening to people who care deeply about the ministry of the institution, Bethany’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously on October 21, 2011, to request approval for the name change from the General Board and the provincial government. That approval was granted this week.

Throughout all the discussions, members of the board resoundingly agreed that changing the name would not change the mission. The institution exists to equip servant leaders for global impact. With that in mind, the Board wanted the name to meet the following criteria. It should:

  • Be meaningful to who we are and what we value as a distinctively Wesleyan institution,
  • Welcome individuals preparing for ministerial service in other like-minded denominations,
  • Be unique to higher educational institutions in North America and in the increasingly-important realm of online education,
  • Provide graduates who desire to minister cross culturally easier access to countries, and
  • Be memorable, simple to spell, and easy to pronounce.

Although other names met some of the criteria, Kingswood University was chosen in recognition of the historical significance that Kingswood has in the Wesleyan heritage. On April 2, 1739, John Wesley’s ministry took a dramatic turn when he broke with religious tradition, risked excommunication, and climbed a small hill in Kingswood, England, to preach the gospel to nearly 2,000 coalminers. Thousands were converted and discipled in small groups. He later launched Kingswood College, the first Methodist school for training future leaders. Historians cite Kingswood as Wesley’s most successful ministry field. 

“John Wesley’s ministry at Kingswood emphasized bold evangelism, strong discipleship, and effective leadership training to bring the gospel to those in greatest need,” said President Mark Gorveatte. “Pray with us that our Kingswood University will continue this legacy, faithfully proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping Christ-like servant leaders to fulfill the Great Commission in the Spirit of the Great Commandment.”