ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Jerry Falwell, Liberty University, and Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia

Updated on January 28, 2015

As a kid growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia, I harbored a lot of resentment for Dr. Jerry Falwell and his Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University. It was a normal reaction for a teenager in the 60's; a kid who wanted to attend rock concerts and enjoy a busy night life. What kid doesn't?

There was no real night life in Lynchburg, Virginia and for those of us old enough to be rebellious, smart-mouthed teenagers, it was all Dr. Falwell's fault. He was the subject of many a rude insult and idle threat. We couldn't have fun because...we thought Dr. Falwell controlled the city and wasn't going to allow that "heathen" way of life to exist in Lynchburg.

The truth is, he did have some control but as an adult, I've learned to appreciate his efforts. In ways I know little about, I am sure that Lynchburg has remained a quiet, slow-paced, safe little city because of Dr. Fallwell's influence.

Lifelong residents of Lynchburg still complain about Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church sometimes. While thousands invade our city on weekends to attend church services at Thomas Road Baptist Church, the locals have a hard time getting into a restaurant without waiting in line. Traffic jams are frequent occurrences in the area around Liberty University (and the mall) when the Liberty Flames have a home game or the college is hosting a Christian concert. Locals don't dare go to Walmart during the first week that students return to Liberty University for fear of getting trampled in a "new student" stampede.

We may still complain about the influence of Dr. Jerry Falwell on our city, but we cannot deny that he left the City of Lynchburg quite a legacy.

Jerry Falwell Hr., Founder of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University
Jerry Falwell Hr., Founder of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University | Source
Dr. Jerry Falwell Jr., Chancellor, Liberty University
Dr. Jerry Falwell Jr., Chancellor, Liberty University | Source

The Legacy

Before becoming famous, Dr. Falwell was first a husband and a father. His children grew up in our city in a home surrounded by tall walls and equipped with a security system. It was necessary. As an outspoken Christian leader, Dr. Falwell was not always popular among more liberal thinkers. In spite of the concerns for his family's safety, the Falwell children appear to have had a relatively normal childhood. Each have made their own names in their respected professions.

Two of Dr. Falwell's sons have remained in Lynchburg and followed in the father's footsteps. Both have become significant influences on the atmosphere and the economy of Lynchburg, Virginia,

Who is Dr. Jerry Falwell Jr. and what Is Liberty University?

Dr. Jerry Falwell, Jr. is the elder son of Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr.. He is President and Chancellor of Liberty University. He has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Liberty University and a law degree from the University of Virginia. He practiced law in Lynchburg from 1987 to 2007. In his role as Chancellor, the enrollment at Liberty University has increased from 9,600 residential students to 12,000. Online student enrollment has increased from 27,000 to 60,000. Dr. Falwell is a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Founded in 1971, Liberty University is now the largest Christian university in the world. It is home to twenty NCAA Division one athletic teams and 30 club sports teams. It is now home to the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center, country’s premier point for year-round skiing, snowboarding and tubing. Also located on the campus of Liberty University is the Lahaye Ice Center. The LaHaye Ice Center offers a variety of ice-skating activities, which include public skating, learn to skate lessons, youth and adult hockey. It also home to the Liberty University ACHA Division I Hockey Men's and Woman's hockey teams, as well as the Men's Division II JV team.

Faculty, staff, and students of Liberty University are estimated to have contributed over 674,879 hours of volunteer service to the Lynchburg community. Students are required to donate 20 hours of community service each semester.

Clearly Liberty University has had a remarkable economic impact on the City of Lynchburg. In addition to the athletic facilities, the college hosts world renown speakers and musical entertainment. Visitors, staff, and students boost the revenue of the restaurants, hotels, and retail establishments of the area.

Reverend Jonathan Falwell, Serior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church
Reverend Jonathan Falwell, Serior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church | Source

Who is Jonathan Falwell and what is Thomas Road Baptist Church?

As the youngest son of Dr. Jerry Falwell, he is the son who followed his father into the ministry and is now the Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church. Jonathan Falwell is also Executive Vice-President of Spiritual Affairs at Liberty University. Rev. Falwell earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Liberty University, a Master of Arts in Religion from the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and a law degree from William Howard Taft University.

Rev. Jonathan Falwell is the author of three books, the host of a syndicated radio program, and an accomplished photographer whose photos have appeared in Time Magazine, Newsweek, US News & World Report, the Washington Post.

Thomas Road Baptist Church was founded in 1956 when 35 adults gathered in Mountain View Elementary School for the first Sunday Service of what would become the church. Within weeks, the group was broadcasting on radio and six months later aired taped services on a local television station. Today, the membership exceeds 20,000 members. Thousands attend services in person and the services are aired both nationally and internationally on television. On-demand video streaming is also available. The church houses a fabulous bookstore and members donate selflessly to the community through volunteer work and providing food, water, and shelter during local emergencies.

A Positive Change

A lot of years have passed since the days when I felt that Jerry Falwell Sr.'s influence in Lynchburg was a negative one. Time has a way of changing our attitude and our perspective. If I lived to be 200 I would never have agreed with all of Dr. Jerry Falwell's philosophy and I am sure we would have had some heated political arguments. But as a more mature adult, I am grateful for the influence and legacy of this family and these institutions on my city. Their contributions to making the City of Lynchburg more viable, more safe, more economically sound are too numerous to mention but their value is vastly different from what I once considered meaningful. What are they, you ask?

  • young people can enjoy sports instead of hanging out in bars or on the street
  • the population of students and church members are the primary influence on our youth rather than gangs and a drug culture
  • during the economic downturn, our businesses were sustained by visitors to the University and Church
  • our elderly residents who cannot attend church can attend through television broadcasts from their living room or nursing home
  • both the Church and the University continue to purchase and restore neglected properties and open new businesses that provide jobs
  • both the Church and the University give this small town in Central Virginia a presence on the National and International stage, drawing tourists to the area that support our hotels, restaurants, and retail establishments

Thank you Dr. Falwell Sr., Dr. Falwell Jr., and Reverend Falwell, for your dedication and contribution to making our city here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains - a city we can all be proud of.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.

The James River from Rt. 29 in Lynchburg, VA
The James River from Rt. 29 in Lynchburg, VA

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)