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The People
Who are the people at Bethabara?

Bethabara’s ministry began in the mid 1980’s, and was formally organized in 1991. Its founders and hosts, Mary Van Andel and Ben Sikkink, have made their home at Bethabara’s current site since 1995. Partners in marriage as well as retreat ministry, Ben and Mary have created Bethabara out of their calling and desire to invite and nurture communion with God and others, in the common context of family, work, and community.

While Mary and Ben have been the principals and visionaries at Bethabara’s heart, there has long been a community of people who believed in the value of Bethabara’s ministry and who have trusted Ben and Mary to carry out the ministry. Over the years, many people have participated in the creation and on-going life of Bethabara. It remains true that Bethabara is a gift from many, for many.

At Bethabara, Mary attends to administrative work, creates and leads programs, and offers spiritual direction, pastoral counseling and hospitality. Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts from Hope College, a Master of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary, both in Holland, Michigan, and a Master of Theological Studies in spirituality and psychology from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Ordained in the Reformed Church in America since 1980, and now a Presbyterian pastor, hospital chaplain, spiritual director and pastoral counselor. Her life is enriched by walking and biking, her cherished friends, music, cooking and other domestic arts, reading, the good earth, and quiet times alone with pen in hand.

A carpenter by trade, Ben serves as Bethabara’s steward by tending its finances, land and library, practicing the creative arts of problem solving, and giving form to Bethabara’s ever evolving vision. Ben earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, and continues to be an independent learner whose interests include reading, gardening, land stewardship, biking, time in the woods, working puzzles, and music from blues to Bach. Together, Ben and Mary have the joy of standing amazed as their young adult daughters, Katrina and Annaka, follow their own dreams and create their lives. Left to their own devices, Ben and Mary share dear and cherished friends, dream up ambitious projects and adventures for themselves, and persist in remaining true to their vocations to be tortoises in a hare world. Who are the people at Bethabara?



3767 Sixty Fourth Street
Holland, Michigan 49423
(269) 857-7010

Frequently Asked Questions, click here.

Bethabara’s signature logo is the work of Chris Wiers, Hedgehog Arts,
Zeeland, Michigan.

Photographs are the work of Ben Sikkink, Amanda Vander Ark & Kathy Stanton.

Web site content was written by Mary Van Andel and made cyber-worthy
by Ronda Hall, EasyWebStudio, Fennville, Michigan.