Your church can help affirm Bethel’s next president at Converge’s biennial meeting

Mickey Seward

Contributing writer

  • Converge vision & mission

For more than a century, Converge and Bethel University have partnered together in ministry. A private Christian university, Bethel was birthed out of the Converge movement. It has produced a great many leaders across our movement and will, indeed, produce many of the men and women who will lead us into the future as we share in the mission to advance God’s kingdom.

Last year, after serving at Bethel for a quarter-century, including the past 12 years as the university’s fifth president, Jay Barnes announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2020. He has served both Bethel and Converge admirably, and we are grateful for his leadership and his friendship.

After President Barnes announced his impending retirement, Converge president Scott Ridout and the other members of Bethel’s Board of Trustees began the process of identifying Bethel’s next president. The importance of securing the proper candidate cannot be overstated. Since the history and future of Bethel, Converge and Converge churches are intertwined, theological alignment is—and always has been—crucial to our lasting partnership.

Search Process
Based on criteria set for membership on the search committee, on community nominations and recruitment by the Bethel University Board of Trustees, a formal nine-member search committee, which included four active members of Converge churches, was formed. The committee included Ridout and was led by Jim Green, a member of Bethel’s executive committee of the Board of Trustees.  

The Board of Trustees also retained nationally recognized search firm CarterBaldwin Executive Search to create as broad a reach as possible in the recruitment of traditional and non-traditional candidates. CarterBaldwin and the search committee also led a prayer initiative and held listening sessions with Converge church pastors and Bethel students, faculty, staff, community, alumni and key donors.

The search committee conducted an exhaustive, nationwide search that spanned across academic, ministry and corporate fields. It developed a list of desired competencies for the successful candidate, including:

  • Christ-centered
  • Visionary
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Courageous and decisive
  • Relational and engaging
  • Effective communicator
  • Trustworthy and unifying
  • Intellectual capacity
  • Multi-cultural competency
  • Professional competency

As a part of the process, members of the committee, including Ridout and Joel Johnson, senior pastor of Westwood Community Church, a Converge church in Minnesota, thoroughly vetted each finalist’s experiences and doctrinal views. The theological screening was one of the search’s crucial components, ensuring alignment between the candidate and Converge. Finalists also underwent a psychological and readiness assessment and had references checked by the search team.

After a year of examining hundreds of applications, conducting screenings, listening to presentations and much prayer, a group of finalists was identified. In February 2020, the Bethel University Board of Trustees announced that Ross Allen had been approved by the Board to become the sixth president of Bethel University. The Converge Board of Overseers offered its enthusiastic approval in April. 

“Ross Allen demonstrated a rich knowledge of the Bible and the ability to integrate theology into leadership, creating a culture of understanding and alignment of faith and practice,” Johnson said. “We found Ross to be a humble and courageous Christ leader, astute and culturally aware of leading through the dynamics of our times while remaining true to who we profess to be.” 

Meet Ross Allen


The Allen family’s history with both Bethel and Converge dates back four decades. He is a 1984 Bethel graduate who not only was a student-athlete during his days on campus but met his wife, Annie, there as an undergraduate. He and Annie went on to raise their children in a Converge church.

“I look forward to working with (Converge churches),” Allen said. “My wife and I have benefited from the Converge church, where we raised our children and have spent many years. I look forward to continuing this partnership in this role as Bethel president. I’m excited to partner together in starting and strengthening churches together worldwide.”

He returns to Bethel after serving as the chief financial officer and vice president for business and finance at Azusa Pacific University, where he helped lead a dramatic turnaround and played an instrumental role in positioning the institution for a strong and vibrant future. Before joining Azusa Pacific, Allen spent nearly his entire career specializing in helping organizations transform their financial and sustainability while clarifying and advancing their mission and vision. During his 25-year tenure at Medtronic—a multinational medical device company—he used his strategic, relational, and operational expertise to lead seven successful corporate transformations in Denmark, Switzerland, and across the United States.

“It’s deeply humbling to look back and see how God has used the last 20 years to prepare me for this role at Bethel,” Allen said. “It’s an honor, and I’m thrilled to be able to work with such talented people who are passionate about developing scholars to pursue God’s glory and do great things for Christ.

“My time at Bethel profoundly shaped who I am and how I live,” he said. “It’s the place where my faith became my own, where I started my family and where I realized I could glorify God through a career in the marketplace.” 

Read more about Ross Allen >

What Converge leaders are saying
We are confident Ross Allen is a Christ-centered, courageous and innovative leader who will benefit Bethel University and the Converge movement—and by extension, your church. The opportunity to be joined on mission by Ross Allen is an exciting next step as Bethel and Converge move forward together.

“I look forward to working alongside president-elect Allen. Together, we are committed to continuing to strengthen the bond between Bethel and Converge as we work to help people meet, know and follow Jesus by starting and strengthening churches together worldwide.” Scott Ridout, president, Converge

“Ross’s gifts, abilities and experiences in the marketplace and beyond uniquely position him to serve for such a time as this. I believe they will enable him to be a culture changer and pacesetter for the unique set of challenges and seismic changes that are occurring in higher education. At the same time, Ross has the fortitude, courage and strength to hold fast to the biblical, conservative, theological foundation upon which Bethel stands. Ross is a committed Christ-follower, passionate student of the Word, a lifelong learner and a builder of teams to bring about solid and shaping leadership. He has demonstrated this ability in diverse work situations across cultures and communities around the world.” Dan Carlson, district executive minister, Converge North Central

“Ross, and his wife Annie, have modeled a lifetime of Christ-centered living at home and in the marketplace. They are longtime members of a Converge church and have equipped their kids to live lives devoted to the Lord. Ross has a mind for finance and rejuvenation. He was a turnaround specialist at Medtronic and also utilized those skills at Azusa Pacific University, both as a board member and then as the chief financial officer. Ross has an incredible, innovative ‘look around the second corner’ kind of mind that both Converge and Bethel University need at this point in our histories. It’s a fast-paced, ever-changing world out there. Ross has a sharp mind, but he also has a huge heart for student development, faculty collaboration and also for the local churches of Converge.” Paul Mitton, district executive minister, Converge Rocky Mountain

Role of Converge churches 
Your church plays a vital role in the affirmation of the new Bethel president. According to Bethel and Converge bylaws, pending a final vote of affirmation by delegates of Converge churches during the Converge Reach Conference biennial meeting June 25, Allen will begin his first term on July 1. Please refer to the email message sent to Converge pastors regarding the delegate selection and responsibilities.

Please make it a priority to register to attend the Converge Reach Conference, Converge’s national biennial meeting + evangelism and missions conference. This year’s conference will be held online and is free to attend.


Mickey Seward, Contributing writer

Mickey Seward is a freelance writer and editor. He served as Converge's director of communications from 2017-23.

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