A Legacy of Faith and Liberty
Discover the Heritages and Hopes of Three Families Investing in America’s Future Through the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center
When its doors officially open to the public in May 2021, the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center in historic Philadelphia will tell a lost story: the story of the Bible’s influence on the great American experiment.
To tell that story, you inevitably have to tell the rich and complex stories of our Founders—of the faith many professed and how it influenced their lives and political persuasions. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States, learned his views of justice from the Bible. John Adams said that true morality is derived from the Scriptures. William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania, took great pains to instill religious freedom in the land.
Biblical values like these—justice, faith, hope, liberty, and love—are now guiding the next generation of American patriots and changemakers. We interviewed several of these families who have generously supported the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center to learn more about their families’ histories and their motivations for perpetuating a legacy of faith and liberty.
Do you hear echoes of your own story in theirs?
Randy and Brenda Rogers: Living Up to a Legacy
Talking to Randy and Brenda Rogers is like talking to old friends. Brenda is quick and compassionate, and Randy has the deliberate gentility you expect from a Texan. And they both have eyes that sparkle when they talk about the Lord.
Both Randy and Brenda were born and raised in the Lone Star State of Texas. Their children all live near them, and they love their church and community. God has blessed them with a profitable commercial real estate company. In their circumstances, it might be easy to live comfortable and self-focused lives. But the Rogers do just the opposite. They’re passionate about sharing the Good News of Jesus with the college students around them, and they’re strategically generous with their finances—desiring for God to grow their hearts for the world around them.
This mission to spread the truth of the gospel is part of Randy’s heritage. One of his ancestors, the Rev. John Rogers, helped translate the first Bible into English from the original Greek and Hebrew. This translation work came at a great price—his life. But John Rogers accepted the translation task knowing the risk. William Tyndale had begun this translation and was martyred on October 6, 1536 for daring to make the Bible accessible in English—accessible for all people and not just the elite who knew Latin.
After Tyndale was burned at the stake, John Rogers followed by the Rev. Miles Coverdale finished the translation, which became known as the Matthew Bible. In fact, the scholars who translated the King James Version drew significantly from the Matthew Bible! John Rogers was subsequently also burned at the stake, and he died advocating for the truth of his beliefs.
On a family trip to England, Randy and Brenda happened upon the very spot where John Rogers had been martyred on Feb 4, 1555. For Randy, that experience and his lineage are sobering reminders of the sacrifices that faith requires.
“Our religious freedom came at quite a price,” says Randy. “There’s a sense in America right now that we’re losing some of those freedoms. I hope we’re not part of the generation that learns what that’s like. We have to be prepared to stand for our faith.”
For Randy and Brenda, taking a stand for their faith like their ancestors includes investing in the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center.
“Part of what’s so important about the FLDC is that it helps preserve our nation’s history,” says Randy. “It’s good to remember that although we were founded by sinful men and women, we were also founded on biblical principles. I think many Americans don’t have a clue about that historical aspect of our nation.”
These biblical principles are important to Randy and Brenda because they were both taught God’s Word from a young age.
“I was raised in a Christian home, and my mother from an early age would get up and read the Bible to us, and we’d memorize Scripture,” says Randy. This practice of routinely engaging in the Bible continued into Randy’s and Brenda’s adult lives, and they’ve grown closer to the Lord through His Word throughout their relationship. Brenda explains, “Early in our marriage, the Bible came alive. We were seeking out cassette tapes to listen to in order to learn about our faith. We were super hungry for more of the Word.”
This hunger has continued as both Brenda and Randy draw daily strength from the Bible.
“The Bible is a lamp to my feet; it’s where I go to try to stay grounded,” Randy says. “When you’ve been as fortunate as we have and made a little bit of money, the downside is that you can start believing you don’t need God. You have to take on the challenge to stay in the Word and try to stay grounded.”
One way the Bible has helped the Rogers stay focused on God’s purposes is by pointing them to deeper generosity.
“I looked at the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says, ‘Where your heart is, your treasure will be also,’” Randy recalls. Reading Scriptures like these prompted Randy to decide to give 20 percent of his company’s profits to ministries that share the Good News with people who are waiting. Randy says that this decision to give is what has increased his awareness and love for God’s people. “The more we started giving to organizations that were translating the Bible or feeding the poor, the more God gave us a heart for these communities. It’s not so much that God gave us a heart for them and then we gave; it’s that we chose to give in faith and then our hearts followed.”
The Rogers are excited to see how God continues to grow their heart for the faith fabric of the United States through their support of the FLDC. “Our nation has had the Bible for a long time, and we take that for granted,” says Randy. “We want to preserve our heritage.”
Randy and Brenda strive to instill biblical values in their children and humbly pray that they honor the great legacy of faith that they’re a part of. They hope for Americans to meet God and strive to honor Him, and they pray that they’ll be ready to answer for their faith—no matter what the future holds. Randy somberly asserts, “If we’re a generation that’s called to martyrdom too, we hope we stand up too.”
Linda Bean: Supporting Preservation and Patriotism
Linda Lorraine Bean exudes passion, whether discussing her Maine businesses, America’s history and future, or the delight of gazing upon a dark, unpolluted sky filled with stars. She is both informed and inquisitive as she approaches 80 years. Looking to her legacy is a priority for Linda as she helps future generations learn and guard America’s rich heritage.
The pursuit of a more perfect nation begins in Linda Bean’s own history. She traces her lineage back to several ancestors who sailed to America on the Mayflower for religious freedom. Eight of her ancestors signed the Mayflower Compact, the first social contract of the European settlers to enable social and governing unity among the diverse passengers seeking religious and economic freedom.
“I have a very deep feeling of commitment to our Founding Fathers all the way back to that time,” says Linda. “They battled together against starvation and the cold of New England winters to explore unknown shores and to build churches and homes on the edge of the wilderness.”
Linda admires how the early settlers—out of necessity—created small, interconnected communities based on biblical principles. “Biblical values are the glue of our society,” says Linda. “We need to feel like small communities again and not just ‘numbers’ in a vast world population. Our community and family relationships need to be strengthened. Our church relationships need to be strengthened. These are the things that lead to a moral society.”
For Linda, a focus on our nation’s future begins in its past. “I’m a patriot. I’m very big on our historic and patriotic heritage. To advance that in the minds and hearts of young people today is a personal mission of mine.” She has invested in the FLDC because she recognizes it as an opportunity to tell the untold story of the Bible’s influence in our founding—and to tell it right on Independence Mall in historic Philadelphia. She says she’s excited about the location because of its prominence with visitors and because, “Philadelphia is a wonderful cradle of American religious freedom.”
Linda grew up as a believer and wants others to have an opportunity to learn about God’s work in our nation. “I sort of had a natural childlike faith,” says Linda. “But to give full credit, my parents made sure I went to Bible school.”
Although she drifted away from her faith as a teenager and adult, when she had children, she was reminded of the value of trusting God and became what she calls an “excited Christian”— eager to apply her beliefs to her life.
Linda hopes to share the values of our founders with the next generation. She particularly likes the idea of children, parents, and grandparents all learning together and having their values reinforced by the religious giants who helped make America what it is today.
“Faith and liberty are the anchors in life,” says Linda. “The FLDC will tell this American story of how the Bible, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence together shaped the concept a nation—our nation.”
Through centuries of struggle against our human imperfection, America has endeavored to stay within these founding documents. They, and America, have had a transformative influence in the world. It’s this biblical influence that Linda hopes will be remembered and lived out for years to come.
“I’m thrilled with the prospect of the FLDC and its lessons enduring far beyond my lifetime,” she says.
For this granddaughter of Leon L. Bean, it’s important for each of us to do our part to share the beauty of our nation. Linda loves introducing people to the rugged beauty of New England, to the specific “goût de terroir” (flavor of the land) of Maine lobster, and to the religious fabric that makes up the United States of America. She’s doing her part to pass on these values and encourages others to do their part too.
“It is a privilege and a blessing to make a difference so that when the Lord takes us, we can leave something meaningful behind,” says Linda.
The Kelly Family: Proclaiming the Truth of Jesus
Frank Kelly III is all business, all family, and all faith. He is what you expect from a successful CEO and a board member for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes: a man of confidence and ethics who exudes passion for the gospel. It’s telling that he spoke to us on his way back from a venue the family was checking out for their son’s wedding. For Frank III as well as for his parents and siblings, God and family come first.
The Kelly family has a classic American dream story. In 1976, the Honorable Francis X. (Frank) Kelly, Jr. and his wife, Janet, started a small health insurance agency in their basement. Forty-five years later, Kelly Benefits has a large headquarters, hundreds of employees, and serves more than 10,000 clients. Since the 1990s, Frank and Janet’s four sons, Frank III, John, David, and Bryan, have overseen the company’s operations and services.
When you speak to any of the Kellys, you’ll quickly learn that they are interested in leaving more than just a business legacy in the world; they want to leave a legacy of faith. Frank Kelly III, CEO of Kelly Benefits, credits his parents’ faith-grounded approach with helping set the business and the family on the right track.
“They modeled God’s love and truth through their presence,” he says. “They modeled prayer with and for us, with their children and their grandchildren. And they modeled biblical values in their giving. Even before they started making any money, they were generous givers who faithfully practiced tithing-plus.”
For Frank III personally, it took a while to put together the puzzle pieces of faith his parents had given him, but once he made the commitment to follow Jesus, he never looked back. His personal faith walk started in an unlikely place: in the middle of a lacrosse field at Cornell University. During a particularly rough practice, it hit him that he couldn’t lead a right and fulfilling life if partying and sports were his “little-g” gods. Recognizing that his only hope was the God his parents and a few teammates had told him about, he opened up his heart on that field and prayed that even if he never played lacrosse again, he wanted to believe, receive, and prioritize a relationship with Jesus Christ.
That step led young Frank to a Bible study that changed the trajectory of his life—although he didn’t know it at first. In fact, in the first couple of “studies” he attended, he never found a single Scripture they referenced because he didn’t know where to find them in the small Bible his dad had given him as a young teenager. Now, he says the Bible is a light to his path, and he wants future generations to also grow in their relationships with God through the wisdom of His Word.
“Between me and my brothers, we have 22 kids,” Frank shares. “And we think a lot about generational impact, about wanting God and His Word to be honored for future generations.” The Kelly family was able to visit the site of the FLDC while it was under construction and caught the vision for this space that talks about the biblical heritage of America. Frank and his family view the FLDC as a monumental witness.
“The Scriptures tell us that faith comes from hearing—and hearing from the Word of God. At some point you’ve got to proclaim the truth so people can receive it,” Frank says. “American Bible Society is proclaiming that truth in a relevant way for millions of people.”
Some might hesitate to put their company name on a religious landmark, but not the Kellys. “We want our names identified with this effort, because of our passion to proclaim God’s love and truth,” explains Frank. “We’re not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of his Word!”
Faith and Liberty for All!
Whether their last name is Rogers, Bean, or Kelly, the FLDC is now part of a family legacy that these remarkable individuals want to share in the name of Jesus. In the exhibits of the FLDC, they hope curious people will recognize the influence of the Bible in our nation’s history— and seek God in the pages of Scripture.
Along with these stories, thousands of partners, like you, fuel the ministries of American Bible Society and proclaim faith and liberty through your generous support and passionate prayers.
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