Inspired by the success of Herbert Bible School in southern Saskatchewan, in 1926, Jacob Lepp, H.A. Willems and John Harder invited Moody graduate George Harms to teach 3 months of evening classes to 30 young people in the Rosthern area. When a public school building became available in Hepburn in 1927, Bethany Bible School was born.
The school was established to
- give youth foundational instruction,
- wrench youth away from frivolous pursuits (and nurture the German language), and
- raise believing youth for the battle of the faith (and train for the needs of congregations).
Church historian Bruce Guenther observes the school became unique for the following:
- an early move toward a college program,
- aggressive promotion of mission…which led to
- (student-led) transition away from German much earlier than other MB institutions.
1927 – school established under first principal/president Dietrich P. Esau
1932 – students establish Bethany Prayer League which grows into Western Children’s Mission
1934 – curriculum expands to 4-year program
1941–1945 – curriculum expands to 5 years
1958 – amalgamates with Herbert Bible School
1960 – campus expands to 13.5 acres
1968 – Alberta conference and Alberta MB Bible Institute of Coaldale join Saskatchewan as co-sponsor
1969–1983 – building blitz
1981 – 199 students enroll – the peak year
1986 – students vote to allow women to run for student president
1994 – Bethany Place, gymnasium & auditorium project, completed
1995 – Saskatchewan Churches of Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference becomes co-sponsor
2000 – obtains full accreditation with Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges
2002 – name changes to Bethany College
Bethany College has 5,932 alumni.