Above, Don Wildmon alongside his son, Tim Wildmon, and his grandchildren.
March 2021 – A dining room. A desk. A phone, and a small off-set press. That was Don Wildmon’s first AFA office. It was 1977.
Forty-three years later, on December 8, 2020, American Family Association broke ground for the Don Wildmon Center for Cultural Transformation, a new structure that will honor its founder’s faithfulness and courage, and serve as the ministry’s command post for the next phase of AFA’s commitment to Christian activism.
For the first two-and-a-half years, Wildmon, affectionately known as Bro. Don, worked 17-hour days, all on his own, from his dining room. Then he hired his first two employees and moved to a small rented office space in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi. He hired four more employees before moving on Labor Day 1983 to AFA’s own new building, the first section of the current facility where the ministry has grown and thrived over the past 37 years.
Through the years, AFA’s campus has undergone a number of renovations and additions, and now its main building is at a point of no repair due to structural issues. Parts of it will, of necessity, be demolished.
“After months of weighing out a full campus remodel versus a new build, leadership determined that a combination of the two would be best,” said Walker Wildmon, AFA vice president of operations and Bro. Don’s grandson.
“The newly envisioned campus will consist of a new 20,000-square-foot facility connected to a remodeled 13,000-square-foot building on the south part of the AFA campus.”
The new state-of-the-art center will provide workspace for 60 of AFA’s 120 employees, and it will feature a pictorial and narrative history of how God used Bro. Don to build AFA and American Family Radio.
“It quickly became clear that this isn’t only an opportunity for more efficient AFA headquarters,” Walker said, “but this is also an opportunity to honor my grandfather.”
“I am so excited to see the Don Wildmon Center for Cultural Transformation come to pass in my lifetime,” said grandson Wesley Wildmon, AFA vice president of outreach. “It will honor my papaw and allow us to advance his mission – which is now our mission.”
“We are thrilled to begin construction on the center,” said son Tim Wildmon, AFA president. “To have my dad, 83, and my mom, 80, in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony was so special.”
“I saw the smile on my papaw’s face,” Wesley said, “and he looked grateful.”
But Bro. Don could not let the ceremony end without taking a minute to share a memory from the “early days” of AFA. He spoke about an activist victory over pornography in Texas, and then said with a chuckle: “[That] ain’t bad for a Mississippi preacher, is it?”
Everyone in attendance laughed and smiled with admiration for this courageous crusader, his boldness and determination over the years.
“God gave Papaw a vision over 40 years ago to launch a ministry that would defend biblical values in America,” Walker added. “The vision and ministry that began in 1977 continues today – stronger than ever before.”
Phase 1 of the Don Wildmon Center for Cultural Transformation is scheduled to be completed in December 2021 while Phase 2 has a projected completion date of April 2022.
“Thanks to the wise stewardship of my grandfather followed by my dad’s responsible leadership, AFA will pay for this project with cash, and we will continue the policy of operating 100% debt-free,” Walker explained.
“The Lord is providing the funds every step of the way,” said granddaughter Wriley Wildmon, director of AFA Foundation.
To make a donation to the building of the Don Wildmon Center for Cultural Transformation, visit afa.net/donwildmoncenter or call 800.326.4543, option 2.