First year at Fruitland good for Horton
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
June 18, 2010

First year at Fruitland good for Horton

First year at Fruitland good for Horton
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
June 18, 2010

David Horton is firmly

seated in the president’s saddle at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute and has

begun to apply the spurs.

On virtually the first

anniversary of his assuming the role June 1, 2009, Horton announced that

Fruitland would start three satellite campuses in North Carolina, with plans

for as many more as there are groups of at least 10 students to support them.

While he envisioned

satellite campuses even as he was being considered to succeed Kenneth Ridings

as Fruitland’s eighth president, Horton quickly learned his goal was shared by


BR photo by Norman Jameson

David Horton

Chief among them are

directors of missions aware of pastors who want theological education but who

cannot afford college tuition or who cannot leave their fields.

While getting things into

place to take that first big step, Horton eased into the president’s shoes by

establishing a good relationship with students. He is not currently in the

classroom, so he is an intentional presence in the cafeteria and around campus.

His door is open to students at all times.

Last winter he and his wife,

Lisa, sledded with students.

“It’s amazing how you can

bond out there, doing something like that,” he said during an interview on his

50th birthday May 26 at Caraway Conference Center.

Fighting Fruitland 40

Lisa Horton, who is very

involved on campus, organized a campus fitness center to counteract what David

Horton called the Fruitland Freshman Forty — those pounds too many students

gain in the presence of a good cafeteria and absence of proper exercise.

“Through the years I’ve

noticed in my own life and in the lives of other ministers, how easy it is to

overlook proper nutrition and physical fitness,” Horton said. “It’s so easy to

get busy doing good things for others, doing the Lord’s work, we forget our

bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and it’s the only temple we get.

“I’m not sure we can add

years to our lives more than God intended to give us, but in the years God

gives us we can have bodies that will serve us better if we take care of them.”

The Hortons work out there

together and separately, as David is “in the process of losing several pounds”

to be a better example, he said.

“Students comment on how

good it makes them feel to see us down there with them working out.”

There was some initial

surprise in the state when Horton was announced as the presidential candidate

because he is neither a graduate of Fruitland nor does he hold an earned

doctorate, both of which were thought beforehand to be qualifications the

search committee would demand.

His immediate rapport with

students, his love of Fruitland and the energy he exudes being back in

mountains similar to where he grew up in Virginia have erased any issues about

the new president not being a Fruitland grad.

And he — along with his two

top administrators — is enrolled in the doctor of education program at

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and vice presidents Scott

Thompson and J.D. Grant are on the same track at Southeastern to graduate in May


They pray together weekly

and he credits much of the progress at Fruitland to the covenantal relationship

they share.

Horton said Fruitland’s

staff and board “have been excellent,” during his first year, displaying an

attitude of “How do we help this happen?”

He and Lisa live with their

youngest son Matthew in the president’s house across the road from the chapel.

“I love living in Hendersonville,” he said.

“We loved Greensboro; we

raised our children there and pastored a wonderful church. But I grew up in the

mountains of Virginia, in Hillsville.

“I’ve always loved the

mountains. So for me, moving to a more rural setting into the mountains

has in many ways been like going back home.”

Fruitland first lady

Horton lauds Lisa, “a

wonderful pastor’s wife” who grew up in a pastor’s home.

She ministers to wives of

students with Bible studies, practical insights and training on how to be a

minister’s wife.

“She is doing a great job

and the ladies are responding to her,” he said. “They realize she is a great

resource for them, as she has been for me for 31 years.”

Horton’s son Michael is an

associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Dublin. His daughter Mandy lives with

her family in High Point.

In earlier days, Fruitland

would not admit students who were right out of high school.

The student body is becoming

increasingly younger as students see Fruitland as an inexpensive destination

for their earliest training.

“Today a lot of students

feel comfortable starting with us,” Horton said. “When they finish with us they

have learned so much they are ready to go to any school and do well.”

Horton was just 24 the first

time he preached on the Fruitland campus, a place he calls “a preacher’s dream”

because of the enthusiasm and appreciation students there have for preaching.

Coming from the pastorate,

Horton knew he would miss preaching if he had only limited opportunity, but he

said he is preaching more than once a week at area churches.

Horton is considering

offering online education courses from Fruitland, but that is not certain.

“During the next year we’ll

continue to try to grow the school and manage what we’re doing well,” he said.

“I enjoy doing new things, but I want to make sure the new things are done