Before Jerry Falwell Sr. was a household name and a prominent political voice in the Moral Majority, he founded Thomas Road Baptist Church in 1956 with 35 adults and their children.
But it wasn’t long before membership swelled to more than 1,000, thanks to a steady door-knocking campaign from Falwell Sr.
Today, about 9,000 attend Thomas Road Baptist Church each week.
Now Thomas Road features a 6,000-seat sanctuary, a far cry from the sticky Donald Duck Bottling Company plant the church first called home before moving to a larger space. The church would move twice more before it finally settled on Lynchburg’s Mountain View Road in July 2006.
Falwell Sr. filled the pulpit at the new sanctuary for less than a year before his death May 15, 2007. His sons then ascended to the roles he had held, with Jonathan Falwell selected as the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Jerry Falwell Jr. named president of Liberty University.
“The facilities have given us a greater opportunity to do more ministries, to provide more resources, to provide more locations for people to gather, to connect, in a safe space,” Jonathan Falwell said.
Falwell said the transition came while he still was mourning his father, and the responsibility of the new position was overwhelming as he stepped into the pulpit at Thomas Road.
Before his first sermon May 20, 2007, less than a week after his father’s death, he said he prayed with other pastors before the service, a prayer he often repeats before the pulpit.
“God, I can’t do it but you can, so do it today,” is what he said he prayed before that sermon.
“I’ve prayed that prayer every time I’ve preached in the last 10 years,” he said. “My dad was a firm believer in the power of prayer. He used to say it often that ‘a man is what he is on his knees before God and no more,’ that’s where you find your strength, that’s where you find your power.”
In the decade since Falwell Sr. passed, Jonathan Falwell said Thomas Road has continued to maintain his father’s vision: to be a local church serving Lynchburg and those living in the Central Virginia area.
SOURCE: Josh Moody
The News & Advance