Thomas Road Baptist Church
Begun in 1956 by a group of thirty-five, including Jerry Falwell, Thomas Road now claims more than 24,200 members. In 1971, the church founded Lynchburg Baptist College, now known as Liberty University, as well as Liberty Christian Academy (known as Lynchburg Christian Academy until it moved and was renamed in 2005). Until 2004, the church was the location for a nationally syndicated religious broadcast known as The Old-Time Gospel Hour. This program now airs only locally in Lynchburg. Selected sermons from the pulpit of the Thomas Road Baptist Church are now featured nationally on a syndicated program from Liberty University known as Live from Liberty.
The church occupied a new multi-million dollar facility on July 2, 2006. The new building is connected to an over 800,000 sq ft (74,000 m2) facility formerly owned and operated by the Ericsson electronics manufacturer. The existing building has been renovated to house offices, university classes, the new Liberty University School of Law, and the Liberty Christian Academy. The church has constructed a 200,000+ sq. ft., $20 million facility adjacent to the existing building which includes a new sanctuary, wedding chapel, and children's area. The Church offers a variety of events and speakers, such as a creationist conference by Answers in Genesis.
Founding pastor Falwell served as its senior pastor until his death in 2007. In a special business meeting called by the board of deacons on June 3, 2007, Jonathan Falwell was unanimously elected by the congregation to assume his father's duties as senior pastor of the church. Jonathan Falwell had previously served as the church's executive pastor since 1994.
Jerry Falwell started Lynchburg Baptist College by selling bonds to a small group of private investors. However, in 1972, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated the bonds alleging Falwell's church committed "fraud and deceit" in the issuance of $6.5 million in unsecured church bonds. The church won a 1973 federal court case prosecuted at the behest of the SEC, in which the Court exonerated the church and ruled that there had been no intentional wrongdoing.
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Established in 2008, the Charles Billingsley Scholarship Fund rewards a full scholarship to Liberty University to the winner of a singing competition. "Liberty Idol" is based on the popular television show "American Idol." The competition is open to all high school seniors who wish to attend Liberty University. Gospel singer Charles Billingsley, leader of the church's gospel choir, solely endows the scholarship fund. Billingsley is the judge of the competition.
Thomas Road Baptist Church was initially affiliated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. However, since 1998, it has a dual affiliation with the Baptist Bible Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Convention, having entered the convention by way of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.
- "Our History". Thomas Road Baptist Church. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
- "Answers for Darwin". Answers in Genesis. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31.[dead link]
- Brown, Ron (3 June 2007). "Jonathan Falwell elected TRBC pastor". Lynchburg, Virginia: The News and Advance. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
- Inskeep, Steve (June 30, 2006). "Religion, Politics a Potent Mix for Jerry Falwell". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- "Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority Founder, Dies at 73", New York Times, May 16, 2007