From its beginning, Thomas Road Baptist Church has experienced the abundant blessings of God. Changed lives and dynamic growth give evidence to this fact.
On June 17, 1956, 35 adults and their children gathered in the Mountain View Elementary School in Lynchburg, Virginia for the church’s first Sunday worship service. That week, leaders of the church and a particularly aggressive young man named Jerry Falwell, the church’s founding pastor, searched for a place to house their new church. They located a building which was formerly used by the Donald Duck Bottling Company.
In a matter of weeks, the church had started its radio ministry. Six months later it began to videotape the Old Time Gospel Hour in a local studio and air the program on a local television station. By 1958, the church had moved into a new sanctuary to accommodate the ever-growing church attendance. The following year, Elim Home was established for alcoholic men on a 165-acre farm just outside of Lynchburg.
In 1964, the congregation moved into its third auditorium on Thomas Road which seated 1,000 people. The following year, the two-story Spurgeon Building was completed, offering temporary relief for the overcrowded Sunday School.
By 1968, average attendance passed the 2,000 level, and the Carter Building was constructed to hold some of the overflowing Sunday School crowd. The following year, ground was broken for two educational buildings and for a new 3,000-seat sanctuary.
With the goal of training Champions for Christ to go into all walks of life, Thomas Road Baptist Church founded Lynchburg Christian Academy in 1967 and Liberty University in 1971. From its inception, this unique educational system has stressed academic excellence and the local church in its Christ-centered, action-oriented curriculum.
In the early part of the 1970′s, Thomas Road became recognized nationally as one of the fastest growing churches in America. A Christian counseling ministry was initiated during this time to assist families with problems and help them build homes on biblical principles. The vision for worldwide missions programs became more aggressive every year as new missionaries and special projects were added. Throughout these years the ministry developed service programs for people in need.
In July of 2006, the church moved into its current facility and kept growing. The new facilities allowed Thomas Road to keep expanding its ministry to the community and throughout the world.
On May 15, 2007, Dr. Jerry Falwell finished his work on this earth and went home to his Heavenly Father. As the new pastor, Dr. Falwell’s son Jonathan is continuing the vision and legacy put forth by his father.
Under Jonathan Falwell’s leadership the church has experienced phenomenal growth. Every month, hundreds of people make the decision to accept Christ as Savior and thousands have joined our church body. Thomas Road continues to minister and spread the Gospel under the mission statement set forth by Pastor Jonathan, “Not I But Christ.”
The life of Dr. Jerry Falwell was marked by a miraculous, incredible journey. One that spanned nearly 51 years of ministry and could only have been written by the hand of God.
Although his earthly life ended on Tuesday, May 15, 2007, his legacy is being lived out vibrantly around the globe in the lives of millions he touched in profound and eternal ways through Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty University and their world-wide ministries. Surely if the task of tallying how many people this spiritual giant impacted in his lifetime were ever attempted, the record keepers would run out of paper before running out of names to add to the list.
Whether preaching or teaching at home in Lynchburg, or speaking to a political gathering somewhere else in the world, Dr. Falwell left an indelible impression on each person who came into contact with him.
While he will be missed greatly, may his legacy live long through each of the lives he has touched. May we embrace the path for emboldened kingdom-building as we take up the charge and move forward.
In honor of the impact and life of Dr. Jerry Falwell, we present here his final message. It was a short but profound finale to Mother’s Day (May 13, 2007) given during the evening service after a special children’s performance.
We also present his memorial service – a time of honor, remembrance and celebration of a life well-lived.
Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr.’s Last Sermon
Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr.’s Memorial Service