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LU's "pioneers" return for reunion

September 11, 2009 : Mitzi Bible

About 300 alumni who were involved in youth ministry-related programs at Liberty, such as Youth Aflame, Youth Quest and Center for Youth Ministry, attended a reunion luncheon Friday, Sept. 11 at the new Barrick-Falwell Lodge at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. Some traveled from as far as France, Russia and Australia and some were from Liberty’s first graduating class.

Friday’s luncheon with Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., and his wife, Becki, was one of the featured events during the four-day reunion that includes a tour of campus, convocation, a banquet in Campus North and Liberty’s first home football game of the season.

Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., recognized these "pioneers" of Liberty at Friday's convocation. He introduced Gordon Luff (pictured at right), who created the youth department at Liberty and the popular Youth Aflame ministry, which had singing, evangelism and missions teams that travelled across the country and eventually the world. The group was also instrumental in recruiting students and raising funds for the young college.

"Without these pioneering students ... and the sacrifices they were willing to make, I'm not sure it would have been possible to build a university like this from scratch," Falwell said. "The university owes a great debt of gratitude ... for the investment they made in the lives of students in the 1970s. They represent one of the most critical and important chapters in the rich history of this institution."

Falwell said he was a boy when these early alumni were on campus and he recalled that their theme song was "Get All Excited."

"There really was an indescribable excitement among those early students," he said. "It was a pioneering spirit, a feeling that God had special plans for this school. I'm proud to say I still sense that same spirit at Liberty today. We've never abandoned the belief that LU has a special role to play in God's plan."

When Youth Aflame was active on campus, more than 2,000 youth pastor majors came through the program. There were countless other missions majors, music ministry majors and business majors who also participated in the program.