David Horton was inaugurated as the eighth president of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute during a service on campus in Hendersonville Aug. 21.
Horton, elected to the role by the Baptist State Convention board of directors May 19, has been serving since June 1. He succeeded Kenneth Ridings, who retired Dec. 31 after 11 years as president and 40 years association with Fruitland in the classroom and administration.
The ceremony was much like a worship service, with messages, song and prayers. Scott Thompson, vice president for academic affairs, said Horton “wanted this to be a day to celebrate God’s work.”
Greg Mathis, evangelism professor at Fruitland and pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church, brought the charge to Horton, citing characteristics the biblical David exhibited earlier in the day in which he slew Goliath.
From 1 Sam. 17 Mathis said he saw in the young David obedience, readiness, courage in the midst of great conflict, responsibility and peace that could not be taken away by family or foe.
“People will question and doubt you,” Mathis told Horton. He said others will try to instruct and challenge him, but “God has raised you up for this time.”
“God can use anything in your hands if you have the right things in your heart,” Mathis said.
Horton’s son Michael, associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Dublin, led the invocation. Horton’s father-in-law David Sechrist, pastor of Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Cana, Va., led the benediction.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, challenged Horton to cast vision, to challenge faculty in teaching, mentoring and modeling a life of Christian service, to oversee the development of curriculum that is biblically accurate, challenging and relevant and to establish, maintain and protect an effective atmosphere of learning for future ministers and missionaries.
Horton responded from Jeremiah 29 and 33. He told about his nearly three months in office and of his hopes for the future.
He has been pleased, he said, to find Fruitland staff a praying staff and he said they pray together often and regularly, as do students.
“It would please me if God chooses to lead this institution not from the president’s office but from the prayer room,” Horton said.
He said Fruitland’s foundation lives in the words of a plaque in the hallway by his office that says, “Keep Fruitland true to God’s word and loyal to His purpose.”
“The future will be built on that foundation,” he said.
He already has initiated some moves to utilize “every means available to tell the story of what God is doing at Fruitland.” The Fruitland website has been overhauled and will now contain the sermons and addresses of chapel speakers. Students will be able to register online and the first edition of a new electronic newsletter called The Fruitland Experience was sent in August to more than 700 initial subscribers.
He is “exploring the possibility of satellite campuses and offering online courses” and said at least five associations or churches already have expressed interest in hosting classes.
Horton acknowledged Fruitland’s unique place in preparing men for ministry. “The primary subject you’ll learn at Fruitland is expository preaching of God’s holy word,” he declared, holding aloft a red, leather bound Bible.
He said because “the world seems to be coming to North Carolina,” there are great opportunities to start churches and impact the international community.
“God is doing something powerful in this place,” he said, “and I don’t want to miss out on it.”