NORTHFIELD, Mass.(BP) — The North American Mission Board has been named one of two finalists in a bid to receive a 217-acre Massachusetts private school campus built by evangelist D.L. Moody in 1879.
Purchased in 2009 by the David Green family — founders of the arts and crafts retail giant Hobby Lobby — the dilapidated property has since received more than $5 million in renovations. The Greens want to give the property to a ministry that will use it to further the Gospel in North America.
If chosen, NAMB would use the picturesque campus in Northfield, Mass., as a ministry, retreat and missionary training center. This would include missionary training, pastoral retreat and recovery programs and space for a variety of church activities. The campus would be utilized year-round and would provide Southern Baptists unprecedented access in the Northeast.
NAMB would sustain the property out of general operating funds with a plan for the property to gradually cover most of its expense through generated revenue.
“We’re grateful to the Green family for seeking organizations who share and are inspired by D.L. Moody’s vision to see people come to faith in Christ,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said. “It’s exciting that NAMB would be considered as a possible steward of such an amazing and historic resource. This is an opportunity that could give Southern Baptists an unprecedented presence in the Northeast.”
Established by Moody as an educational institution for the underprivileged, the school was divided into the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in Northfield, Mass., and the Mount Hermon School for Boys in Mount Hermon, Mass. Both campuses provided rigorous academic training along with orthodox Christian doctrinal education.
The institution dropped compulsory theological education in the early 1900s.
The Northfield and Mount Hermon campuses consolidated in 2004 onto the Mount Hermon property six miles away in Gill, Mass., leaving the Northfield campus uninhabited.
Foreseeing the need for more extensive renovations and a desire to restore the property to its evangelical heritage, the Green family culled a list of possible tenants from among organizations with substantial financial backing and orthodox Christian beliefs.
Adam Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board.