Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary’s primary purpose is to provide the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) with pastors for her churches, and the churches of her broader international fellowship.

The ELS national convention of 1942 passed a resolution stating that a seminary should be established because of, “the need of pastors to be placed in mission stations and vacant charges and in order to facilitate the preparation of students for the work” (1942 ELS Convention Report, p. 58). Though the establishment of the seminary was slightly delayed by World War II, the seminary was officially established in 1946 and the work of training parish pastors began.

Since that time, the purpose of the seminary has expanded to include continuing theological education for active parish pastors as well.