Bethany was founded July 28, 1909 as a community where members of the Church of the Nazarene could express their religious beliefs without interference by non-members. The town was named after the biblical place of Bethany. The community quickly established the Oklahoma Holiness College now known as Southern Nazarene University.
The city is in the central part of Oklahoma County, about 10 miles west of downtown Oklahoma City, and is bounded by Warr Acres on the east and by Lake Overholser to the west.
Bethany is home to two universities. Southern Nazarene University (SNU) and Southwestern Christian University (SWCU).
SNU offers adult degree completion and many masters programs including an MBA with evening classes. Southwestern Christian University is a Holiness–Pentecostal university specializing in Bible and Christian ministries and offers adult degree completion and master programs.
The Bethany parks and recreation system includes many small neighborhood parks, and four large parks, Eldon Lyon Park, McFarland Park, Ripper Park, and Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge. Eldon Lyon Park is the venue for the annual 4 July festival, which is an all-day event with fireworks, a carnival, and a parade that starts on main street. Downtown festivals include Bethany66, the Annual Tree Lighting, Cinco de Mayo and is home to many special one-time musical events hosted by main street businesses like Java39.