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The story of Liberty University is one of many great miracles and
On Monday night, the school experienced yet another wonderful
triumph, as two great Christian establishments formed an important and
official relationship that will keenly affect Liberty. That night, the
executive board of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia
to “recognize Liberty as a fully cooperating institution affiliated with
Under this agreement, Liberty University becomes a Southern Baptist
Convention university affiliated with the SBCV, with that group pledging
“prayer support in behalf of Liberty University exactly as we pray for
the six Southern Baptist seminaries.”
More importantly, this vote means that Southern Baptist leaders
nationwide will immediately begin recommending Liberty University to
their young people.
The SBCV stated that it “will recommend and send students to Liberty
University whenever appropriate, also urging Southern Baptists from
other states who are searching for a Baptist University committed to
historic orthodox Christianity, to send students to Liberty.”
Dr. Paige Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention,
welcomed Liberty to “our Southern Baptist Zion,” adding that “across the
years to come, I am certain that ever-increasing numbers of students
from Southern Baptist homes and churches will find their way to Liberty
“This is a historic day,” added Dr. Jerry Vines, a past chairman of
the Liberty University Board of Trustees, and a former SBC president. “I
am so thankful that 16 million Southern Baptists have a world-class
Christian university to which they can send their young people.”
I am extremely excited about Liberty providing quality Christian
education to Southern Baptist young people, as we do to hosts of other
students from diverse evangelical backgrounds.
This is indeed yet another exciting day — amid many others — for
A Christian Academic Community
For years, I dreamed of building a university for evangelical young
people. I dreamed of building a university that would become — for
evangelical students — what Notre Dame has become for Catholic young
people and Brigham Young has become for Mormon young people — a
university to call their own. I truly believe that God Almighty placed
this dream in my heart.
Thirty-five years ago, I envisioned that I would one day establish a
system of schools — from pre-school, through grade school and high
school, through college and even terminal degrees — wherein students
would never have to sit under the guidance of teachers who counter the
biblical teachings they learn at home.
Today, a four-year-old student may enroll at our Lynchburg Christian
Academy, in the Early Learning Center, and proceed through elementary
and high school. That same student may then enroll at Liberty University
and earn a bachelors degree, a masters degree and a doctorate, all in a
Christ-centered environment — identical to the vision God placed in my
heart many years ago.
29 Years of Miracles Began With A Dream
On Aug. 26,1971, Liberty University (then known as Lynchburg Baptist
College) opened its doors for the first time. That year, 154 young
pioneers were part of a tenuous experiment in Christian education. The
students had no campus to attend. They had no dormitories in which to
live. Our classes met at my Thomas Road Baptist Church and the students
lived in the homes of our members and in roughly modified “dorms” that
were constructed in small homes across the street from the church.
However, from the outset I could sense that God’s hand was in our
efforts. While we were initially diminutive, my vision for Liberty
Over the years, people have laughed at me when I explained the vision
God placed in my heart for Liberty University. But I remained dogmatic
in my pursuit to fulfill the dream that I believe the Lord placed in my
My ultimate dream through the years was to purchase a beautiful,
sprawling mountain, known as Candler’s Mountain, here in Lynchburg. As a
boy, I had hunted and hiked there. In later years, after becoming a
Christian, I spent many hours walking on its paths or sitting beneath
its trees, reading
the Bible and praying about my future.
On a decisive day in 1972, a dear friend and I flew to Chicago to
meet with the vice president of a large national corporation — the
owner of Candler’s Mountain — to find if it was for sale.
“Strange you should ask,” responded the executive. “We own hundreds
of tracts of land across the country, but just days ago, we decided to
sell the exact piece of land you need.”
Silently, I thanked God for the man’s reply. Then I swallowed hard
and asked the price of the land.
“One million, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” he answered. I
gulped again. “We’ll take it,” I answered, and my friend looked at me
with silent surprise. He knew we didn’t even have a decent down payment
on such an amount. But he said nothing.
“How would you like to pay for it?” the vice president asked.
I knew his corporation was selling the property to raise needed cash
… and I had none. “Would you consider financing it?” I asked meekly.
He just laughed and shook his head.
“Could you give me a 90-day option so we can raise the funds?” I
He thought hard and answered with a hesitant, “Yes.” Then he added,
“You’ll have to leave some earnest money.” I knew he was talking about
hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“What about ten thousand?” I asked earnestly.
He laughed again. “Can you get 90 more in 30 days?” I answered
quickly, “I’m certain of it.”
He stood and looked me in the eye. “Then it’s yours,” he smiled.
Still dazed and excited beyond the telling, I took out our checkbook
and wrote a check for $10,000 to buy the mountain we would one day call
The Continuing Fulfillment of a Dream
Today, Liberty University swells across that mountain. There are 70
buildings, including a 10,000-seat basketball arena. The replacement
value of our campus now stands at $250 million.
We are now preparing to add three additional floors (500,000 square
feet) to the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center because of the continued
rapid growth of the student body. (Our resident and external student
bodies are presently above 9,000.)
Students from all 50 states and 74 nations comprise our resident
student body. These students have found Liberty to be a place of
academic excellence and spiritual distinction. Our faculty — all
dedicated Christians who believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God
— do not view their teaching as a job; they see it as a calling. They
are the most dedicated men and women I know.
Liberty is now achieving national prominence in many of its programs,
including the School of Nursing, the School of Education, and the School
of Sport Management. Our debate team, for the last several years, has
been ranked number one in the nation — ahead of schools such as Harvard
Additionally, some 31 thousand Liberty alumni are serving humanity as
educators, scientists, politicians, journalists, professional athletes,
physicians, attorneys, etc. And two thousand of our alumni are senior
pastors of Bible-preaching churches in the U.S., while another thousand
are serving God as missionaries around the world.
In 1997, Liberty University witnessed its greatest miracle when
Christian philanthropist A.L. (Art) Williams and his wife Angela
completed one of the largest contributions to a single educational
institution in American history. Their $70 million gift enabled Liberty
to enter the 21st century
financially strong. It further permitted me to launch crucial
fundraising programs for the expansion of the university, which are now
I look forward to overseeing these future efforts as Liberty
aggressively charges into the 21st century with a commitment to continue
training the future conservative Christian leaders of our nation.
My original vision for Liberty was to change the world by training
“young champions for Christ” — students who can carry the gospel of
Jesus Christ to every nation in their generation. That same vision will
carry “God’s University” into the third millennium, reaching toward a
body of 10,000 in the next seven years, comprising the greatest
Christian university in the world!
This new alignment with the Southern Baptist Convention is another
great milestone on this road to the ultimate realization of my dream
NOTE: For more information on the university and its academic
programs, please visit our Liberty University homepage.