Ask Bethany House: Where Did You Get Your Name?

This month’s Ask Bethany House question is a bit more on the trivia spectrum, and something a number of readers have probably wondered: “What inspired the name Bethany House?”

This question takes us back to the early days of Bethany House. In 1956, when BHP began, it was part of a larger missions organization called Bethany Fellowship, an organization dedicated to training and supporting missionaries. Printing books became one of the ways they funded international missions, along with donations and various other business endeavors.

As of today, this novel has sold more than a million copies!

As of today, this novel has sold more than a million copies!

BHP started out with an exclusive focus on nonfiction until publishing Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly in 1979. It is often considered the first inspirational novel. Ever since then, we’ve had a proud history of publishing books from some of the best Christian fiction authors out there. (Scan the bottom corner of the spines on your bookshelf, and I’m guessing you’ll see a few of the BHP quill logos there!)

But none of that explains why the the missions organization decided to use “Bethany” in the first place. According to Bethany International’s website, “The name ‘Bethany’ was chosen because it was a place Jesus would retreat with his disciples for rest, prayer and reflection.” (So if your guess was that it was named after the city Bethany in the Bible, most famous for being the hometown of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, you were right.)

In 2003, Bethany Fellowship sold Bethany House Publishers, and we became a part of the Baker Publishing Company family. Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to change our name. So even though it can get confusing to people living nearby (Bethany International, Bethany Church, and Bethany Global University, a college training young people for ministry, are all our neighbors, even though we are no longer officially connected to them), we still proudly have the name Bethany House.

If you didn't realize this was a quill, don't took me a full year working here to make the connection.

If you didn’t realize this was an inkpen quill, don’t worry…it took me a full year working here to make the connection.

Fun side-note on names: Remember the first Bethany House fiction book, Love Comes Softly? The editor who acquired that novel and hundreds of others through the years was Carol Johnson. She and her husband Gary led Bethany House’s editorial team for many years. Carol was instrumental in starting up the Christy Awards to recognize Christian fiction authors, and the American Christian Fiction Writers honored her recently by changing their fiction award to the Carol Awards.


So here’s my question for you: Bethany House was named after the place Jesus went for rest and reflection. What’s your place for rest and reflection? (It can be a room in your house, a favorite local restaurant, a vacation destination…anything.)

7 thoughts on “Ask Bethany House: Where Did You Get Your Name?

  1. My place is my mom and dad’s house…it’s pretty and peaceful, just a few miles outside my hometown. Cornfield across the gravel lane in front and a ravine and creek in back. Does the trick every time. 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on Scribbles and Somedays and commented:
    A glimpse into the history of Bethany House Publishers! Publicist Amy Green shares the origins of Bethany and how it developed into the fantastic publishing house it is today.

    What’s YOUR favorite publisher? Does the company have interesting origins or history? Share it with us in the comments!

  3. Holden Beach, NC is my favorite place to get away and spend time with God. When I can’t go there, I escape to my comfortable chair in my home office where I pray and spend time with Jesus.

    Thanks for explaining the meaning behind Bethany House.

  4. That’s SO awesome. Love Comes Softly was the first Christian book I ever ready 25 yrs ago, right after becoming a believer. I wrote to Janette Oke probably that same year, and she sent me her book signed! I still have it. I never realized that about the logo. I always looked at it upward, not down like a pen. As for a place to rest, I don’t have one yet as we just moved.

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