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Faithful School of Divinity staff member retires after nearly 30 years of service to Liberty

Liberty University’s John W. Rawlings School of Divinity recently celebrated the retirement of Eva Middleton, who served with the university for close to 30 years.

Middleton retired in May after a long history with Liberty and its founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell. She started attending Thomas Road Baptist Church, of which Falwell was the pastor, in the late 1960s. In 1984, after years of sitting under Falwell’s teaching, she accepted a position with the Moral Majority, a conservative, political lobbying group Falwell founded. Ten years later, she accepted an administrative assistant position with Dr. Harold Willmington at the Liberty Bible Institute (later named the Willmington School of the Bible), a certificate program through Liberty that provided biblical education to full-time ministry workers. Willmington was a best-selling author and globally recognized scholar. Middleton continued working for him until his death in 2018, then she moved to the dean’s suite in the Freedom Tower to work under the late School of Divinity Dean Emeritus Dr. Ed Hindson and, most recently, for the current dean, Dr. Troy Temple.

“Being under the teaching of Dr. Falwell as a pastor and working for ‘Mr. Bible,’ as Dr. Willmington was affectionately called then, grounded me spiritually with a wealth of biblical teaching,” she said. “I have had a wonderful work career. I don’t consider it work; it was a pleasure.”

Middleton said she found joy in developing relationships with Liberty students, whom she served through a “ministry of encouragement.”

“I think back on all the years at Liberty, and I realize a privilege it was to have wonderful friendships, an awareness of the eternal work that was being done, an appreciation for the time we are living right now, and the gravity of the school’s purpose of teaching and training young people for ministry in every work of life,” Middleton said.

Following her retirement, Middleton’s friends and co-workers noted the profound impact that she has had on their lives.

“During her tenure at Liberty, Eva ministered to so many faculty, staff, and students,” said SOD Director of Operations Jonathan Kirk, whose office neighbored Middleton’s. “Her consistent, faithful presence brightened everyone’s day, and her institutional knowledge was beyond comparison. Each day I witnessed firsthand her encouraging words and diligent work ethic. What makes Liberty special isn’t the buildings, enrollments, or attractions — it’s the people like Eva.”

Kirk’s sentiments were echoed by other staff and faculty who were inspired by her commitment to Liberty’s mission of Training Champions for Christ.

Whether taking time to pray with her fellow staff or pulling pranks on her peers, Middleton worked hard to ensure that everyone felt included and valued.

“She had a reputation that preceded her because of her wit and her charm and humor. And boy, did she live up to and exceed those expectations,” said Brandon Read, faculty support coordinator for the School of Divinity online program.

“Coming here and being able to connect with Miss Eva was a blessing to me from the Lord,” Read added, noting that his grandmother passed away right before he started working for Liberty. “It was almost like having another grandmother because she was just so sweet. She loved my kids and wife when they’d come here. So, I was really blessed to have that relationship with her.”

Temple said Middleton served Liberty relentlessly, in addition to her many family and church responsibilities, which included her Sunday School class and taking care of her grandchildren.

“She really reflected and embodied the missional spirit of who we are and what we get to do on this campus,” Temple said. “There is no hierarchy (of positions at Liberty); we have such a missional, team culture on our campus, and we know that Liberty does things other schools can’t. She embodied that and knew that her job was critical.”

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