Pigeon Forge (WVLT) - More than just the Falwell family is mourning the Reverend's death Tuesday in Lynchburg. That's where Falwell founded Lynchburg bible college back in 1971. It's now called Liberty University, and Liberty alumni here in East Tennessee say they're grateful for how he helped shape their lives.
They tell the story of Jesus Christ nine times a week. But Tuesday's show was anything but routine.
"It was a sad time, a sad moment," Mike Salsbury says.
Mike Salsbury and two fellow cast members graduated from Liberty University...founded by Jerry Falwell.
"When I was doing the show today, I kept thinking, God, all the work we did at Liberty, this is what he would want for his to do," Salsbury continues.
Falwell's death Tuesday afternoon hit 2004-graduate Nathan Lynch hard.
"I was definitely shocked," Nathan Lynch says.
Shocked at the loss of a man they say was loving and caring and always...
"Full of joy, full of excitement, full of passion for what he believed," Josh Anders says.
But his beliefs about homosexuality and liberals sparked controversy.
"That's what's beautiful about it. He stuck by it. He was strong. He was faithful," Anders continues.
A sense of conviction they say's hard to find nowadays.
"I think in today's society that's something that's lacking in individuals. They don't want to stand-up and make a difference," Nathan Lynch says.
And Falwell's strong faith made all the difference for them.
All the Liberty grads who perform here on stage say they didn't just lose a reverend and leader today--but a friend.
"There are very big shoes to fill, and I don't say that because he was a big guy. I just mean there are very big shoes to fill," Anders says.
They say he's not gone. God's just called him home.
"I do think that Dr. Falwell heard today, well done good and faithful servant," Salsbury says.
Now the show...and his students...must go on.
The students also say Falwell always kept his office door open. He was very approachable, easy to talk to, and would pray for them. They say his main goal was helping them understand what God wanted them to do with their lives.