Bethel Seminary San Diego to close its doors

SAN DIEGO -- Bethel Seminary San Diego will close its doors after more than 40 years, it was announced Friday

At a meeting Monday night, students prayed together and learned more about the fate of the campus.

Heather Klein is one of the dozens of students who was shocked by an email informing them the campus will close after the school year.

"I was crying this morning over it," Klein said. "It's really hard."

Klein and others say they're not only concerned about what finishing their degree will look like but also the long-term impact of the decision.

"There's numerous churches throughout Southern California that have been impacted by Bethel Seminary," Klein said.

"My biggest concern is for the future of leaders here in San Diego that are called into ministry," student Mario Romero said. "Our counseling field boosts one of the best in the United States."

Randy Bergen with Bethel University says choosing to close the campus in San Diego is hard for everyone.

"It's a major decision we know impacts a lot of people so we took our time to make sure the decision was carefully made," Bergen said.

Bergen told FOX 5 this is the outcome of necessary financial cuts and the trend of students choosing to complete seminary programs online rather than attend the campuses in San Diego and in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"We had last year 96 new students choosing to study online and 87 students combined in both campuses studying face-to-face," Bergen said.

Bergan says the school will help students finish their programs. Some will be transferred to online courses and others will continue face-to-face teaching at another location.

"This is like an oasis for some of us," Klein said. "We're not only here to get a degree. We're actually challenging and stretching our faith."

"I don't necessarily agree that you can replace community and face-to-face interaction," Romero said.

Students and alumni say closing the campus that has been a part of San Diego for more than four decades will without a doubt leave a void in the community.

"More than anything we would love to see this building stay open," Kleins said. "We would love for the board of trustees in St. Paul, Minnesota to know not only how much this school has impacted us but how it has impacted San Diego and the entire West Coast."

The campus is set to close at the end of next June and will eventually be sold. FOX 5 was told the money will go towards supporting Bethel Seminary.