history

Bethany Fellowship was founded by five families in 1945. Ted Hegre, who served as their pastor, shared with this small fellowship the vision of r2sending and supporting 100 missionaries. After much prayer, these five families sensed God leading them to sell their homes and pool their resources to acquire a common residence, a large, 30-room home in Minneapolis called “Bethany House.” The purpose of this community life was to reduce unnecessary work and expense so more time and money would be available for working together to fulfill the vision God gave them—living the sanctified Christian life and completing the unfulfilled task of world missions.

The name “Bethany” was chosen because it was a place Jesus would retreat with his disciples for rest, prayer and reflection. As Bethany Fellowship expanded, they outgrew “Bethany House” where they all lived. In April 1946, they purchased a 62.5 acre farm in Bloomington, Minnesota, moving there in June 1948. (Click here for a virtual tour of the current Bethany Campus)

campus31Bethany College of Missions began with 10 students in October 1948. In the early years, graduates of what was then called “Bethany Fellowship Missionary Training Center” served with various mission sending agencies. In 1963, Bethany International Ministries, their own sending agency, was formed. The first developments were in Brazil, and included a Bible school, church planting work, publishing and printing, and seminary. Today, Bethany has several thousand graduates, sent hundreds of missionaries, planted churches, founded Christian bookstores and literature distribution networks, trained church and mission leaders, and partnered with national ministries in more than 50 countries.

Bethany’s primary source of funding through the years, along with school fees, mission support partners, and people giving as moved by God, has been through business ventures that produced wood toys, lefse and pancake griddles, camping trailers, and book publishing and printing. These ventures funded the community, the college of missions, and supported missionaries. Bethany Press International, founded in 1997 as a separate ministry to print books for Christian authors and publishers, originally printed books for Bethany House Publishers (begun in 1956 and sold in 2003 to Baker Book House). Bethany Press continues to be a major source of funding for the training and sending of Bethany missionaries.

Bethany International LogoWe have a growing excitement about Bethany’s place in God’s plan to train and send a new generation of servant leaders for missions in the 21st Century. We live in perhaps the most exciting and challenging generation in all of history. We are committed to seeing thousands more young men and women equipped to “GO!” as God’s agents of transformation into all nations, all spheres of influence, and to all generations.

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