Bethany College

Located in Lindsborg, KS, Bethany College has nearly always been the heart of the small Swedish town. Dr. Carl Swensson founded the school under the name of Bethany Academy in the fall of 1881. The local Lutheran church had purchased a plot of ground with the proceeds going towards the school. In March, 1884, the school passed under the official control of the Kansas Conference of the Lutheran Augustana Synod. Because of a great need for teachers, Bethany was named Bethany College and Normal Institute after they started a Normal Department. In 1899, The College of Liberal Arts was fully accredited by the Kansas State Board of Education, the first institution of the state to enjoy this distinction. Swensson’s slogan was “the Bible and the Constitution,” which demonstrated its focus on creating the ideal Christian American citizen.[1]

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The Christian American ideal that Bethany championed was challenged by WW1 because many Christians were torn between supporting the war for their country and opposing the war based on their beliefs. In the end, many Americans chose to support the war by fighting against what they believed was a threat to their country and their citizens. Bethany was also challenged in that they had to find a way to run the college while missing many students who were off fighting. Bethany College had a unit of the SATC, which helped young men work towards finishing their degree while training for active duty. With the students that were left, which were largely music students, traditions such as the Messiah Festival were continued although over 50 men were no longer able to participate.

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[1] Bethany College Catalog 1920