Inaugural Liberty Baptist College Graduating Class Reunites After 50 Years

This year marks Liberty University’s 50th anniversary, and over the past weekend students from Liberty’s first graduating class held a celebration to kick off the series of events.

Two former students, Gene Albert and Mike Grooms, hosted the gathering. Both Albert and Grooms attended Liberty Baptist College before the name change to Liberty University, they wanted to bring the first year students together prior to the school’s official celebration that begins in the fall. The two worked with Paula Oldham Johnson, who also attended Liberty in its
first year.

“This is not a university sponsored event, although Liberty is helping [with it],” Johnson said. “This is just a bunch of us who wanted to get together to reminisce and remember that first year at Lynchburg Baptist College.”

The first students attended Liberty long before the school expanded to thousands of acres and had its logo etched into the mountainside.

Johnson recalled her first year at Liberty Baptist College and how the school met entirely at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Her dorm was in the church’s basement and her classes took place in the church’s lobby. Despite the lack of resources available at the school, Johnson said that she and her fellow students felt led by God to attend.

At first, Johnson said that she was resistant to attend LBC. After already completing her first year of college at a different school, moving to a college that with no cafeteria or even a proper campus sounded out of the question. However, she felt a pull to attend. 

“Most students came because God spoke to them, and those were great years,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was just a wonderful, wonderful time.” 

When these alumni attended the school, There was no Food Court at Reber Thomas. No Williams stadium. No Vines Center or DeMoss Hall. No Freedom Tower and no dorms. The reunion allowed many of the attendees to see the campus for the first time since leaving in the mid-70s. 

The reunion began on April 23 with dinner hosted by pastor Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church. The following day featured a visit to Albert’s rare books business, Cross & Crowns and a bus tour of the campus. The reunion concluded with the group attending the Sunday morning service together at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Johnson said the planning committee arranged the events to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions and noted that a good portion of the attendees were already vaccinated. Despite the precautions, everyone at the reunion was able to enjoy each other’s company after 50 years.

Asher Notheis is a News Reporter. Follow him on Twitter at @AsherNotheis.

One comment

  • Sylvia DeAngelo

    Congratulations, Ronnie Riggins on 50 years of serving the Lord and building His church in New Cumberland. I attended one year at Liberty in the DBA program and it was awesome to be involved in a Christian school after having to attend many secular schools. Keep running the race to win the prize. Love you and Beverly. Syl
    Sylvia DeAngelo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *