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Bethany College - Lindsborg, Kansas
 
Bethany College was founded in the church, literally and historically. Bethany College continues to be a significant institution of the church, as an important liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Bethany is owned by two synods of the ELCA — the Central States Synod and the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod. Bethany College holds a covenant relationship with the Rocky Mountain Synod.
 
Today the College maintains a close relationship with the ELCA and many of its congregations and church units, as well as a partnership with the community of Lindsborg. The archives of the ELCA Central States Synod are located at Bethany College in the Wallerstedt Library, and it also contains many records of the predecessor body Augustana Lutheran Church (Synod) both Kansas Conference and West Central Conference.  In June 2002, Bethany College and the Lindsborg community were pleased to be hosts for the biennial national Gathering ’02 of the Augustana Heritage Association.
 
Bethany and Students
Meet the Challenge — Achieve your Goals!”  Many students find Bethany to be a match, as their church college. Bethany College offers top quality education, with great value. As a Bethany student you will know your outstanding professors. You are not just a number at Bethany. At Bethany the professors and the staff will care about your goals and dreams.

Bethany College

 
Bethany College long has been noted for its enriched, active, lively cultural and educational environment in a Central Kansas community which is widely known for its distinctive lifestyle and activities.
 
Many people both off and on the campus appreciate the numerous offerings of music, art, lectures, seminars, intercollegiate sports, and more.  Bethany can make a difference for you. Bethany offers:
Individual attention;
Opportunities to grow — intellectually, spiritually, and towards your career goals.
 
Bethany has a full range of financial aid programs and merit scholarships. The campus co-curricular activities include 50 programs and organizations. There are music, theatre, academic clubs, religious organizations, 15 intercollegiate sports, and other activities. Bethany’s solid liberal arts curriculum has 15 academic disciplines, and pre-professional and teacher education majors. 
Take a look at Bethany, it can be for you!
 
Augustana Synod History: Bethany’s Founding Legacy of Dr. Swensson
Bethany College has its roots in the Augustana Lutheran Synod.  Bethany College was founded by Rev. Dr. Carl Aaron Swensson in the sacristy of Bethany Lutheran Church in Lindsborg, Kansas, on October 15, 1881.  In 1879 Carl A. Swensson was only 22 years old when he arrived to become the second pastor of the unique Swedish-American community. He succeeded Rev. Dr. Olof Olsson, Lindsborg’s Swedish immigrant pioneer spiritual founder and leader who later became a theological giant of the Augustana Lutheran Synod and president of the Augustana College and Theological Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois.
 

Bethany College - Third Class Commencement

 
In the Lindsborg pioneer years of 1879-1904, Dr. Swensson provided dynamic and truly amazing church, community, and educational leadership. He was the second president of Bethany College. Traveling extensively throughout America, he was as an exceptionally popular Augustana Lutheran Synod leader, Swedish-American orator and writer, college president, parish pastor, and author. A popular member of Swedish-America at the time, Swensson was born in the United States at Chandler’s Valley near Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania (south of Jamestown, New York), on June 25, 1857. Dr. Swensson’s books and other writings were popular in Sweden, and several times he also traveled there. 
On February 15, 1880, he was married to Alma Lind of Moline, Illinois — a highly talented musician, gifted leader, and a person who added greatly to her husband’s resources through faithful support and inspiration. Alma Swensson provided much inspiration to her husband, the church, and the community. They had two daughters, Bertha and Annie Theo.
 
Swensson’s founding of Bethany College represented a great venture in faith. He recognized that early founding visions had come from Olsson and his Värmland beloved friends. But it was he who, after a summer 1881 meeting in Lindsborg by the national Augustana Synod, “could not rid myself of the thought that the right time was at hand” to build the school or “air-castle” as many called it.
 
Swensson said: “I saw how God had blessed our settlements in this beautiful, flourishing, and liberty-loving state. But how our children and youth should obtain the necessary Christian education was a question….” On October 15, 1881, when classes began at Bethany Academy — the forerunner of Bethany College — the first teacher was J. A. Udden, a recent Augustana College graduate. Dr. Swensson also taught religion classes. [Smoky Valley People, by Emory Kempton Lindquist, Bethany College Press, 1953, Pp. 86ff.] 
The college grew rapidly. A large five-story Old Main building was constructed, even while many pioneer supporters lived in dugouts.
 
It was on April 12, 1881, when Carl Swensson was present in Rock Island for the first rendition there of Handel’s great oratorio, the “Messiah.” Inspiration for the oratorio there had been brought by Dr. Olof Olsson after visiting London. It didn’t take long until Carl and his wife Alma soon had a chorus rehearsing in Lindsborg in December 1881, and the first Lindsborg “Messiah” renditions were presented in March 1882, with orchestral and conducting help from Illinois. Who could have known the extent to which this nearly 13 decade major Lindsborg tradition would grow — to become the major internationally-known festival and religious presentation of community and college?
 
Swensson always was proud of his American citizenship, although he appreciated values of European culture, especially Swedish. The Bethany founder believed citizenship should not be a passive matter, and his entire life showed understanding of its dynamic quality. Political activities of Swensson constituted a great crusade which he thoroughly enjoyed. He was a capable and untiring campaigner for causes, issues, and political party. In 1889 he was easily elected to the Kansas legislature from McPherson County, and, like Olsson two decades earlier, Swensson represented a constituency proud of his presence among Topeka lawmakers. He fended away efforts to make him governor or U.S. congressman, because he felt called to make his unique contribution through Christian higher education at Bethany College. In those early years he was Bethany’s greatest asset, and the College needed him. 
He served numerous roles in the Lutheran church, but first of all as Bethany Church pastor. His sermons were simple but inspiring evangelical messages. He was active as an officer of the Kansas Conference of Augustana Lutheran Church. He was a champion of Lutheranism among Swedish American circles, yet he realized the future belonged to a united Lutheran Church with American orientation. As president of General Council of Evangelical Lutheran Church of North America, he said: “…the Lutheran Church of America needs today…spiritual awakening…a more sincere confession of sin, a deeper contemplation of God’s love, and a fuller and more real acceptance of Christ by faith…. Fanatic revivalism and dead formalism are the extremes….”
Swensson produced an amazing range and amount of writing, including books, pamphlets, and hundreds of newspaper articles.
 
It is no accident that a larger-than-life marble statue of Dr. Swensson has been displayed prominently on the Bethany College campus since shortly after his death on February 16, 1904. 
 
Bethany in the ELCA Church Today
Through the years since 1881 Bethany College has maintained a close relationship with the Lutheran Church — currently the ELCA, its congregations, and church units.
 
The campus of Bethany College has changed over the course of time, and today the modern facilities provide some of the resources to make the College a widely recognized quality institution of higher learning. Bethany College continues to be a significant institution of the church as an important liberal arts college. 
For more information on church relations and other aspects contact the College campus pastor, the staff in the advancement office, or the admissions office.

Presser Hall Auditorium

 
Religious Activities
The College provides opportunities for students to participate in a variety of religious activities designed to promote growth in faith and service in fellowship with other interested persons. These include Bible study, prayer groups, Bethany Youth Ministry, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, chapel participation, Bread for the World, Football Special Teams Ministry, and more. The Campus Christian Center (the Chi Rho house) affords space for most of these programs as well as the campus pastor’s office.
 
Location and Setting
Bethany is just 20 minutes southwest of Salina, Kansas, and 70 miles north of Wichita (the largest city in Kansas), and 200 miles west of Kansas City. Bethany is a four-year fully accredited coeducational institution with 630 students. Bethany is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is widely known especially for the cooperative college-community annual eight-day Messiah Festival of music and art, during Easter-week. Lindsborg is a community of 3,500 population which provides a strong and unique setting for Bethany as it meets its educational mission.
 
For additional information regarding Bethany College or Lindsborg, Kansas, please refer to the following web sites:
 
Bethany College
Lindsborg, Kansas
ELCA
Augustana College
Bethany College
California Lutheran
Gustavus Adolphus
Immanuel Health
Systems
Midland Lutheran

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