Bethany Christian Mission Center

Old log cabin


Miss Marjorie Burt (1938)


Class visit to original cabin


Early boy's cottage


Visit to the mission farm


Early Sunday School class


Workers construct infant casket


Singing in the church


Hospital Staff

Miss. Jewel in nursery

Mrs. Kilby - berry pcking time

Girls with Bethany truck

Boys on steps

First Schoolhouse

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Today's Bethany Christian School


A windowless log cabin stands in a place of prominence among the modern buildings on the campus of Bethany Christian Mission Center. It stands as a constant reminder of humble beginnings but more importantly, it serves as a monument to the provision of a mighty and wonderful God.

The story is ageless; its effect eternal. God has blessed, provided, and nurtured the ministry for over 87 years. Through the tiny mission begun in 1926 by Miss Marjorie Burt, many people have heard the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. What a wonderful testimony to His constant faith and abiding love.


Milestones of History

1926 • Life was simple at the mission on Holly Creek in June of 1926 when Marjorie Burt, along with Miss Laura Wendland and another worker occupied a meagerly furnished log cabin with three small girls. But God was faithful as these ladies, students from Chicago Evangelical Institute (now Vennard College) undertook the mission God had lain on their hearts. Those early years were just the beginning; the beginning of muddy trails; no electricity, plumbing, refrigeration or telephone. They were also the beginning of great blessings, answers to prayer, and changed lives. As the years progressed, the mission grew, and God revealed Himself in new ways.

1931 • By 1931, the Five Year Milestone, the first Faith Hall was housing the nursery, girls dormitory, kitchen, dining hall and office. It was considered a "castle", with part-time electric lights powered by diesel motor. The boys were housed in a cottage behind the creek. There was a shed for the mules and cows, a country store, and a U.S. Post Office. The number of resident children stood at forty-eight and the staff at twelve. Fifty-seven children, including day students from the community were studying in the substantial two and a half story schoolhouse. Church services were held at the schoolhouse on Sundays, as well as seven outpost churches. The Home, known as Bethany Orphanage, was incorporated in 1929 by the state of Kentucky.

1936 • At the Ten Year Milestone in 1936, nearly 300 children had received care, and there had been thirty-one grade school graduates. A better cottage housed the boys, and a parsonage had been built. Logs and labor had been promised to build a church. The ministry to the community had been greatly enlarged by Bible teaching in the schools and home nursing. These were the Depression years, but the Home was moving steadily on.

1941 • The Fifteenth Anniversary Project in 1941 was the financing of a hospital. Incredibly, it was erected, roofed, and painted in six days and dedicated the following spring. Another great answer to prayer was the surfaced road to the highway. Only those who had traversed the old road by foot, horseback and jot wagon could fully appreciate the new ease of travel. Stories of experiences on the old trail would fill a book. On one occasion Miss Burt and a lady evangelist coming in by wagon and mule team had been stuck in a mud hole all night. A young girl with appendicitis had been carried to the highway in a rubber bath tub. But now all that was changed with what was called the single greatest improvement. This blessing and others came as friends far and wide responded to the prompting of God's Spirit in answer to prayer.

1946 • The Twenty Year Milestone, 1946, marked the dedication of the new tile schoolhouse. Eighty acres of land had been added to the mission, an eighty foot well was drilled which provided an abundant supply of flowing water, and a right of way was signed with Licking Valley Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation in the spring of 1945. Miss Burt was admitted to United States Citizenship in that year.

1951 • The Silver Anniversary was observed in the fall of 1951. Miller Memorial Nursery was dedicated at graduation time. Another major building had been dedicated in this five-year span: a boy's dormitory which replaced the little cottage, which had been destroyed by fire. The year 1951 was shadowed by the death of Lina Miller, who had been with the Home since the beginning in 1926.

1956 • At the end of Thirty Years in 1956, Bethany was looking back at the improvements of the past five years to water and sewage systems, a cooler in the kitchen, and the increase of land to 500 acres. Miss Burt and others were living in the new Memorial Cottage, and staff members were receiving a $6.00 monthly allotment. The name Bethany Orphanage was changed to Bethany Children's Home, and the mission was connected to the outside world with a telephone. At the 30th Anniversary celebration, Miss Burt was presented with thirty red roses, each one representing a year of proving Heaven's resources.

1961 • Burt Dormitory was a reality by the Thirty-Fifth year in 1961. A new barn (later relocated) had been built, and a reservoir project completed with eight 550 gallon tanks hoisted up the hillside giving needed pressure and protection against fire. The first young people had graduated from high school while still part of the BCH family. The pickup plan for mission barrels had begun.

1966 • Two beautiful new buildings were dedicated at the 40th Anniversary in 1966 - Metch Hall, and the church, including space for a 3500 volume library. Other improvements were in evidence as well: blacktopping of campus roadways, a fire hall to house the fire truck, and a public address system. The original cabin had been moved to the grounds and restored. A branch of the new Mountain Parkway (Highway 15) traversed Bethany's farm, giving an outlet by highway in both directions and bringing bus service and motor freight to the door.

1971 • Kentucky Governor Louie B. Nunn helped Bethany celebrate its Forty-Fifth Anniversary in 1971. The new Faith Hall dormitory for girls had been built on the original Faith Hall site: meeting state safety requirements that the old building could not. The facility changed its fuel source from coal to natural gas. Ten thousand pine seedlings were planted on the hillsides and Miss Burt was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel.

1976 • At the Golden Anniversary Year, 1976, Bethany Children's Home rejoiced in what had been accomplished in the past half century. A farm house had been built as well as Dean Dormitory for boys. Three mobile homes were purchased to be used as staff residences and a swimming pool provided recreation for everyone. Emphasis was placed on the school with the acceptance of boarding students. The Singing Ambassadors were established to present the Gospel in song. God had taken Bethany from log cabin to modern facilities all debt free!

1981 • The five year span before the Fifty-Fifth Anniversary abounded in children's and young people's activities. The number of boarding students was growing. Staff were taking Bible classes to over a thousand students in the Wolfe County public schools. An offset printing press was purchased. Miss Burt, then ninety, visited her native England.

1986 • A significant change had taken place as Bethany came to the Sixty Year Milestone. The status had now changed from home to boarding school. While the emphasis was on Christian Education, life at the center remained essentially the same. The name of the mission was changed to Bethany Christian Mission Center, Inc. and children entered as boarding students from other areas as well as the Kentucky mountains. Eight states were represented in the 1985-86 school year. Many day students also attended with more applications than could be accepted due to limited space. Miss Marjorie Burt, our beloved founder, passed on to her Eternal Home on July 4, 1983, at the age of ninety-six.

1991 • The Sixty-Fifth Anniversary of Bethany Christian Mission Center was observed in 1991. This celebration was shared by the Alumni Association, which was launched in 1987. The Christian elementary school was a central focus of the mission, with two buses on daily pickup routes, and boarding students staying in the dorms. There was much activity at the trade store, print shop, and post office. The church, as always, ministered to all. Extensive improvements were made including painting, roof repair, and interior renewal to all main buildings. Obtaining computers (through Kroger register receipts) was underway.

1996 • By 1996 Bethany had reached its 70th Milestone year. Emphasis was placed on Bethany Christian Elementary School and all classes were at capacity, with a waiting list. There were a few boarding students, who added an international flavor. A 66 passenger school bus and a mini van were purchased in 1994, and daily bus and van runs transported students to and from school. Burt Dormitory was remodeled as a triplex of staff apartments. The Alumni Association took responsibility for the hospital and began a Bethany Museum. A Parent/Teacher Organization was formed and proved a useful resource for the school.

2001 • God has blessed Bethany Christian Mission Center and brought it into the new millennium. At the 75th Anniversary celebration, Alumni and friends from all around the country came to help praise the Lord for His faithfulness. A new school facility had been built, with gymnasium and library space - completely debt free. The new facilities were dedicated at the 75th anniversary, as well as Allen Auditorium and the Bollinger Memorial Library. The farm saw a rebirth as a new family moved in with their Belgium horses and began to farm again. A basketball program was started.

2006 • The 80th Milestone arrived as Bethany stepped into the electronic age. The staff and students at Bethany had a dream for quite some time to have a state-of-the-art computer lab. During the summer that dream came true, thanks to many different people. Several generous donors partnered with the Bethany PTO to provide the funding for fifteen computers, two printers, and computer desks. The new computer lab was setup where the library was formerly located. Now all students starting from the second grade will receive courses in basic computer skills and typing instruction.

2011 • Much has happened in the past five years, leading up to the 85th Milestone. Our school offerings have been enhanced to allow for Pre-school as well as high school. We have undertaken a major remodeling project to prepare the buildings on our campus for use all year long! Church retreats are in the planning stages and we continue to be blessed by our Lord. Miss Burt's final resting place in the Pinecrest Cemetery, here on Bethany's campus, has been revitalized with a thorough clean up. Flowers have been planted and benches have been installed.  As we celebrated our 85th anniversary, we stand fast in the belief that God will provide.

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Many Changes have taken place in the last 87 years. The pool no longer exists, the old boys dorm is gone. Buildings have been upgraded, and the old school building, still in use as a preschool, has been dedicated as the Betty Hillegas Building.  Art, PE, computer, Spanish and music classes are taught as the staff is available, and many guest speakers from around the world share in school chapel services.

Many of the faces have changed as well. We are so blessed with our rich heritage. Without those who have served at Bethany throughout the years; those who gave of their time, sweat and tears; those who spent hours on their knees before the Throne; we would not be here today. To those who gave so much, we can only say "Thank you", and trust God to reward them in Heaven.

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