D.L. Moody is one of my favorite revivalists in American history. Some have called him the father of the modern Sunday school movement. D.L. Moody saw a desperate need to bring literacy to the poor and did so by using the Bible and the gospel message in lessons to teach people how to read. In Northfield Mass., he started a school to train female evangelists to win women to the Lord called the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies. Over time that evangelistic zeal grew cold and the school just became one of many prep schools in the Northeast. In 2005 it closed when it merged with another prep school. It stood vacant until Steve Green the President of Hobby Lobby purchased the property in 2009 for only $100,000 dollars. Since then, Green has invested 6 million dollars to restore and renovate the 217 acre campus and it’s 43 storybook buildings. Now Green is looking for a Christian organization that will once again take on the vision of D.L. Moody with the same passion for evangelism that Moody had in the liberal heart of the Northeast. Here is some excerpts from the story I found on CBN.
Hobby Lobby Founder David Green Revives D.L. Moody’s dream In Northfield Mass.
By Mark Martin, CBN News Reporter
NORTHFIELD, Mass. — The small town of Northfield, Mass., is in an area often called “education valley.” While the region is now known for academia and secular liberalism, it also has deep Christian roots. Legendary evangelist D.L. Moody founded a school in Massachusetts that, over time, grew cold to the Gospel. But the family behind the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby wanted to see that now empty campus return to its original purpose. ”They want to see an organization come in that offers programming that’s in the heritage of what Moody established the campus for,” Jerry Pattengale, director of the Green Scholars Initiative, explained to CBN News.
Moody was born in a house that sits on the grounds of the campus he founded in 1879. The graves of him and his wife, Emma, overlook the school originally known as Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies. ”I think that he thought to evangelize women, it would be good to have women who were evangelists,” Peter Weis, an archivist on the “Moody campus,” said. The seminary eventually turned into the secularized Northfield Mount Hermon prep school for girls. It now sits vacant after consolidating with a nearby campus for boys in 2005 to save money.
The Green family purchased the breathtaking property, reportedly worth around $20 million, for only $100,000 in 2009. They’ve put about $6 million into renovating the 217-acre campus and its 43 storybook buildings. The Oklahoma family now plans to give away the Moody campus, free of charge, to the right Christian institution. They want an education in the valley to once again give students a mountaintop experience through faith in Christ and a knowledge of biblical truth.
The Greens originally planned to give the school to a new college named after Christian scholar C.S. Lewis. But after fundraising problems, they began their search for another owner. It’s Pattengale’s job to find a recipient who will faithfully uphold orthodox Christianity. The right candidate must also have the finances for the preservation of the campus with its Victorian-era buildings. Steve Green said he hopes to transfer the school to its new owners by the end of the year.
“We’re looking for a group that will say, ‘You might believe some things differently, but here’s what the Bible teaches, and we want to carry on that tradition,’” Pattengale said. A revitalized campus now waits for a Christian owner to bring in students. And a mile of new sidewalks, renovated roofs and porches, and refurbished furniture like 1894 chairs in the auditorium where D.L. Moody preached will be put to use. The Greens are looking forward to the day Moody’s 1879 mission to train students to fulfill the Great Commission will again become a reality — this time in the 21st century.
Will D.L. Moody’s dream rise again in the Northeast?
What do you think? Personally I think it will rise and flourish and fill both the need and the vacuum that exists in the Northeast for truly orthodox and Evangelical Christianity. I am sure that there will be a fight and that the liberal elite will howl at the moon, but in the end I believe that this vision will once again be alive in Northfield Mass. Secondly I would like to applaud the Green family for their vision and foresight in taking on this project. In the age where we have TV evangelists living high off the hog on the donations of Christians, here we have a Christian family who has used their money wisely to see the gospel spread to a needy area of our country. This is what having a generous spirit really means. Join me in prayer as they seek God’s choice to use this part of our American evangelical history for His glory.