National Christian Foundation gifts historic Dwight L. Moody property to Catholic and Protestant groups
OLATHE, Kan., – The National Christian Foundation (NCF) announced today the gifting of the historic Northfield Campus in Northfield, Massachusetts, to Thomas Aquinas College and The Moody Center.
Established by noted evangelist Dwight L. Moody in the 19th Century, the property has a history of education and evangelism, which both the College and Center commit to furthering through the acceptance of this gift.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to steward the transition of the Northfield Campus for the last few years,” stated Emmitt Mitchell, who led the effort for the NCF Heartland office. “From the moment I first set foot on this campus, I knew that it was a special place. We are excited to see two organizations, committed to honoring the legacy of D.L. Moody, take over this historic campus.”
The property was the original home to the Northfield Mount Hermon School, which was founded as two institutions, Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in 1879 and Mount Hermon School for Boys in 1881. The schools became a single coeducational institution in 1971 and consolidated to the Mount Hermon campus in 2005.
Four years later, Hobby Lobby purchased the property with the intention to give the campus, free of charge, to an institution that would maintain the property and continue Moody’s vision and mission. Recognizing NCF as a leader in Christian philanthropy, Hobby Lobby subsequently entrusted the organization to find a suitable recipient for the campus.
Following a thorough search, Thomas Aquinas College and The Moody Center were selected for this grant because of their willingness to work together to extend Moody’s historic mission at the Northfield campus. Specifically, Thomas Aquinas College was chosen because of its long-standing commitment to academic excellence and for its strong leadership, and The Moody Center because of its mission to actively preserve the heritage of Moody.
“We are deeply grateful to the National Christian Foundation for this magnificent gift of the Northfield campus, and we are extremely thankful for their help in creating a $5 million matching grant fund to help Thomas Aquinas College launch its educational program in Massachusetts,” said Thomas Aquinas College President, Dr. Michael F. McLean. “We look forward to working with the town of Northfield and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. With God’s help, we will provide even more young people the intellectual, moral and spiritual formation they need to serve the Church and our country well.”
At 500,000 square feet, the Northfield Campus contains 40 primary buildings, including eight dormitories, seven academic buildings and administration buildings. Together, Thomas Aquinas College and The Moody Center will take ownership of the campus on May 2, 2017.
The majority of the campus will be occupied by Thomas Aquinas College, which has a more than 45-year history of educating students on its southern California campus. The gift of the Northfield property will allow them to expand their mission of Catholic liberal education at this new east coast branch. The school plans to open its doors to students in the fall of 2018.
The Moody Center will be restoring many historic parts of the campus, including the Homestead as well as the Moody Auditorium, which seats 2,200 and is the home of Moody’s famous revivals. It will also build a Moody museum, which will be open to the public, and house a repository of archives that have historical significance to the evangelist’s life and legacy. The Moody Center is currently finalizing an agreement with Northfield Mount Hermon to bring their collection of Moody archives to the museum. Through NCF, The Moody Center has similarly created a $5 million matching grant fund to launch this initiative.
“Northfield was once a premier destination for Christian leaders and conferences, and through this transition of ownership, The Moody Center has the opportunity to again re-establish the property as a preeminent location for teaching and training biblical scholars,” said Mitchell. “While D.L. Moody died over 100 years ago, the legacy of Moody lives on today. The Moody Center is committed to sharing his life and message of inspiration with the next generation.”
Photo: Aerial view of New England campus in Northfield, Massachusetts (courtesy of Northfield Mount Hermon School)