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Whitworth University breaks ground on $2.8 million theology center

UPDATED: Fri., March 23, 2018

This rendering depicts the $2.8 million Beeksma Family Theology Center, which is under construction at Whitworth University. (Courtesy of Whitworth University)
This rendering depicts the $2.8 million Beeksma Family Theology Center, which is under construction at Whitworth University. (Courtesy of Whitworth University)

Whitworth University has broken ground on a $2.8 million expansion and renovation of its Seeley G. Mudd Chapel, a project that school officials say will lead to greater “synergy” between its campus ministry and theology department.

The new 3,900-square-foot portion of the building, named the Beeksma Family Theology Center, will include offices for more than 20 faculty and staff members and student employees, as well as gathering spaces for students. The 6,000-square-foot existing chapel also will be remodeled to add seating and improved sound and video equipment, according to a news release.

“This new addition, as well as renovation, has long been a point of discussion. Finally the time has arrived,” Jerry Sittser, a Whitworth theology professor and fellow in the school’s Office of Church Engagement, said in the release. “We think the space is just right. It’s full of light, places to gather and wide hallways for conversation. Collaboration is a key principle at Whitworth.”

The university, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, plans to hold a blessing ceremony for the project on April 12. The building is named after Barney and Joyce Beeksma, who graduated from Whitworth in 1954 and contributed $1.5 million to the project.

Barney Beeksma is a retired banker who served one term in Washington’s House of Representatives in the mid-1990s, representing Oak Harbor as a Christian conservative. He told The Spokesman-Review in 1995: “Those who are students of history realize our government was founded on Judeo-Christian principles – the Ten Commandments and the law of God.”

Other donors to the theology center include the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and Jim Cowles, a member of the family that owns The Spokesman-Review.

Spokane’s Bouten Construction Co. is the contractor on the project, which is expected to be finished in the fall.

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