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About Us

Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary is the theological seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), a confessional Lutheran church body headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota. Bethany Lutheran Seminary has been preparing pastors for the ELS and her broader fellowship for seventy-five years and continues to provide graduate level theological education today.

Seminary History

In the summer of 1946 the synod convention resolved in the name of the Triune God to adopt fourteen resolutions relating to a new seminary, the first of which was: “To establish a full theological seminary course at Bethany Lutheran College, this course to begin in the fall of 1946.” On September 24, 1946, a dedicatory service officially opened Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary.

The first dean of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary was Rev. Norman A. Madson of Princeton, Minnesota. In 1957 Rev. Milton Otto joined the staff and was named dean of the seminary in 1968. He had been the pastor of the Saude-Jerico parish in northeastern Iowa and had served as president of synod.

The 1974 convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod resolved that the seminary presidency be separated from the college presidency.

Rev. Theodore A. Aaberg was called as the first full-time president of the seminary in 1976. He had distinguished himself as a parish pastor and a theologian in the synod. At this time the Regents created the office of dean of students, to which position Professor Juul Madson, a member of the staff since 1970, was appointed. During much of this period Professor Rudolph Honsey taught the Old Testament classes in the seminary. President Aaberg tendered his resignation because of ill health in August of 1979 and passed away in January of 1980. Professor Glenn Reichwald served as acting president for the 1979-1980 school year. Rev. Wilhelm W. Petersen accepted the call of the Board of Regents to be the new president of the seminary and began his work on August 1, 1980. He served the seminary as president until 1997. Rev. Gaylin Schmeling was called as seminary president in 1997 and served until his retirement in 2022. Rev. Timothy Hartwig was called and serves as the current president.

Read more of the seminary’s history …

Seminary Faculty

See more information about our faculty.