It's been nearly a week since Jerry Falwell Jr. took "an indefinite leave of absence" on Aug. 7 from his position as president and chancellor of the popular Liberty University. The institution, founded by Falwell's father, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, has long stood as a bastion for conservative values and education.
But since Falwell Jr.'s departure, the internet waves have remained largely silent except for expected cheers and jeers. A group of alumni who called for his resignation remain vocal in their insistence that he not return to his post, according to The Christian Post. While acknowledging the severity of the issues involved, Charisma News has found evidence that the faith community has not abandoned Falwell in this difficult season. And some of the support comes from what may seem like an unexpected source.
The social media outcry that led to Liberty's board of director's request that Falwell step down indefinitely came in response to an "inappropriate" photo Falwell posted to social media that has since been removed. The photo kept resurfacing, however, and numerous students, alumni and others, including former instructor and faculty advisory board member Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., insisted that Falwell step down.
But Walker, one of Falwell's most fervent detractors up to his leave of absence, has since posted on Twitter that "though not easy, this is the right call for @LibertyU students and family. He added in another tweet: "I pray for Jerry Jr. and the Falwells, and I take solace in the Christian principle that forgiveness and redemption is available to all."
(2/2) I pray for Jerry Jr. and the Falwells, and I take solace in the Christian principle that forgiveness and redemption is available to all.— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) August 7, 2020
Jerry Prevo, chairman of Liberty University's board of trustees, who has been named as interim president, released the following statement after the original announcement, according to wset.com.
In the 13 years that Jerry Falwell, Jr. has served as president of Liberty University, Liberty has experienced unprecedented success, not only academically and financially, with a world-class campus, but also spiritually. As we enter our 50th anniversary year, we have been blessed to grow to a record 120,000 students, both residential and online, and continue to fulfill our founder's mission to Train Champions for Christ across the world.
Unfortunately, with this success and the burdens of leading a large and growing organization comes substantial pressure. Today, my colleagues and I on the Liberty University Board of Trustees and Jerry mutually agreed that it would be good for him to take an indefinite leave of absence. This was a decision that was not made lightly, and which factored the interests and concerns of everyone in the LU community, including students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, leaders of the Church, as well as the Falwell family.
To support Jerry through this period, we ask that our entire community lift him up in prayer so he may be able to fulfill God's purpose for him and for Liberty University.
And Ike Reighard, longtime pastor and Liberty University board member, added his prayer support as well. He told Emma Green, writing for The Atlantic, that "character is a lot more easily kept than regained. I'm praying that the character can be regained by everyone that's involved."
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse as well as a longtime Falwell family friend and Liberty supporter, told CBN News that Falwell "made the right decision in stepping down."
"Very saddened by what has occurred; I certainly don't support Jerry Falwell's actions," Graham said. "We just pray for Jerry. Jr., his wife and family. God will bring them through this storm they find themselves in."
Graham added that he supports the appointment of Alaska pastor and Liberty board member Jerry Prevo as interim president. "I know him very well, one of my closest friends, and I know the university is going to be in good hands," Graham said.
Please join your prayers with those of the Charisma Media staff as the Falwell family, Liberty University and anyone else involved navigate this difficult time.
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