Think big and never give up! Those are the principles one local couple learned from Dr. Jerry Falwell and now they're living by them. Pastor Gerry and Melanie White not only studied under Dr. Falwell, they worked for him and developed a special bond with the Christian leader. They share fond memories and photos of their mentor and friend.
“It made it so special that he did that for us--we were just students,” said Gerry.
A wedding day is memorable for most couples as they tie the knot to the love of their life. But, for Gerry and Melanie White, their wedding day was also memorable for another reason--thanks to Jerry Falwell!
“He actually married us,” said Melanie.
“That was a big deal--that was huge... He said, yes right away,” said Gerry.
Gerry and Melanie met Dr. Falwell at Liberty University--the school he founded--when they were students there.
“One of the things people don't know is he is very personable and gets to know all of his students on a personal basis. If I were to go back last week, he would have still remembered my name,” said Melanie.
“He was a strong encourager--if you were depressed, he lifted your spirits--the glass was always 1/2 full,” says Gerry.
That can-do attitude took Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church from 35 members in 1956 to one of the country's largest at more than 22-thousand members.
“When you feel like you can't go on, would look to what he has done in Dr. Falwell's life and I knew I could do more,” says Melanie.
Now, that's what this couple clings to. Today, Gerry and Melanie pastor Lighthouse Baptist Church in Hurricane. Dr. Falwell visited West Virginia in 1998 to dedicate their new building.
While at Liberty, Melanie worked at Falwell's christian academy, Gerry worked directly with Falwell. Both recognize his huge and sometimes controversial influence on the national stage.
“America needs Judeo-Christian ethics--need someone to stand up and say thus saith the Lord,” said Gerry.
“The legacy won't be the moral majority--will be the thousands of students who went there who are carrying the torch,” said Melanie.
There is another West Virginia connection. Dr. Falwell’s wife is from Alum Creek.