Jerry Falwell has been the only senior pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church for its 40 years and the sole chancellor at Liberty University in its quarter-century.
While no successor has been tapped for either post, Falwell has a candidate in mind: 30-year-old Jonathan Falwell, the youngest of his three children.
"I think Jonathan will one day be pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church," Falwell told ct in his Liberty office. "He could easily be the next chancellor here."
In August 1995, Jonathan Falwell became the church's administrator, a new position for a congregation that has 13 staff ministers.
Falwell's other son, 34-year-old Jerry, Jr., is in-house legal counsel for the university, and more responsible "for the miraculous survival of this ministry than any other single person," according to Falwell's new autobiography. His daughter, 32-year-old Jeannie Falwell Savas, is a surgeon in Richmond. Jonathan Falwell has one degree from Liberty and another from Liberty Baptist Seminary. He began a tape duplication company in 1990 that grew into a million-dollar business—much of it through family-related ministries.
So far, Jonathan Falwell has preached only one Sunday morning service, but his father expects the speaking assignments to increase.
A video of the service shows that the red-headed, baby-faced Jonathan is comfortable speaking. He strolled the platform with Bible in hand, rarely glancing at his notes. He is more soft-spoken than his booming-voiced father, but he has a similar broad frame.
Liberty University School of Religion Dean Elmer Towns, 64, who has taught a Thomas Road adult Sunday-school class for the past decade, says Jonathan Falwell is a good leader and attentive to details. "One of the first things he did ...1