The Free Will Baptist Convention is richly steeped in history as most churches and ministries could well elaborate. It is pleasant to hear updates from ministries and programs continuing from what our predecessors began so long ago, even over 100 years. One such account can be told of the history of meetings held by the Eastern Conference. Many decades ago, they constructed a building with the purpose of a meeting place for the Third Union of the Eastern Conference of the Original Free Will Baptists. In the 1950s approximately five acres of land on Highway 241 between Pink Hill and Beulaville, NC, were donated by Arthur Kennedy, a member of Sandy Plain OFWB Church, to the Third Union and were given five years to erect a building there. Will Hill constructed the building which belonged to the Third Union Meeting of the Eastern Conference and it was referred to as the Free Will Baptist Assembly Grounds which is located just a few miles north of Sandy Plain OFWB Church. Today, although no longer owned by the Original Free Will Baptist Convention, that same property is still being used in ministry for the building up of God’s kingdom.
When originally owned by the Third Union, they would host Fifth Sunday evening sings that included several church choirs (Sarecta OFWB was known as one of the best!). Sometimes there were also special sings by groups such as the Kloud Family and Lewis Family. There were occasions in which convention meetings were held there as well as softball tournaments. The Youth Fellowships were held there on Fifth Saturday nights as well as events such as at least one watch-night service held for the youth on New Year’s Eve. There have also been fond memories told by adults of how they, as youth, would view movies there such as The Cross and the Switchblade (the Nicky Cruz’s story of conversion from a gang leader in New York).
Throughout the years, this property has changed ownership several times but most all has been focused towards Christian ministry. There was a time in which the Eastern Conference made changes resulting in the sale of the land and building to a management systems company. Late one night, there was an explosion and the building burned leaving only the cinder block hull of the structure standing. A local community member, Ervin Futrell, helped the organization of the East Duplin Senior Citizens acquire the property. They worked diligently to raise money and obtain grants to restore the building. Mrs. Eunice Smith Bostic, a member of Sandy Plain OFWB and head of the East Duplin Senior Citizens, was instrumental in helping the group rebuild with the specifications that it should always be used for ministry. While under the possession of the East Duplin Senior Citizens the property has hosted many community gatherings and church services.
Recently, the East Duplin Senior Citizens have disbanded and made the decision to leave the property to a youth ministry much needed in the community. Today, it is now in the beginning stages of transforming into the Christian education ministry of Kingdom Christian Academy (KCA). KCA former board member Pastor David Smith (grandson of Mrs. Eunice Smith Bostic) of Sandy Plain states, “This building was most recently owned by the East Duplin Senior Citizens and used for ministry for many years. After dissolving, their hearts were set for the facility to continue being used for the Kingdom of God. After hearing the vision about Kingdom Christian Academy, they felt this was the investment in our youth they had been looking. Through this opportunity, I know from my involvement, and the KCA board and staff will do their best to continue the work of God by sharing His love and purpose in the lives of our children.”
The vision of Kingdom Christian Academy is to provide an educational system of excellence wholly devoted to building up the kingdom of God and His righteousness through daily integration of God’s word into all areas of the learning environment, thoroughly equipping students to spread the good news of the gospel into their homes, the community, and the world. Several past and present members of board of directors for the Academy include lifetime members of Sandy Plain OFWB that is located just a few miles from the property.
Since KCA is not supported by any specific entity or church, the board of directors has completely relied on God for all provisions. The board of directors continues to host and plan fundraisers under His direction to proceed with the renovations needed for the building in order to update it for suitable educational use. The remodeling process is currently halted as they wait for God to supply the capital needed to progress with their mission to first make Jesus Christ known to all students and to provide a biblically-based quality education in which students will develop skills needed to positively impact their world for Him. The Academy plans to open August 2015 for their first academic year. It truly has been amazing to see God at work through the organization of KCA. To learn more about the Academy, please visit their website at <www.kcalions.org>.
It is inspiring to know that a property has been used for so many years by different entities and continues to grow the Kingdom of God. The board of directors at KCA has a vision of many more children learning and carrying forth the Gospel based on the seeds of His Word planted decades ago by the Eastern Conference. They believe these seeds have been watered and will continue to produce a rich crop of servants for Christ. The board of directors sincerely hopes many of you will be able to partner with KCA in any way to bring this needed ministry to the children in the community whose roots were established by the Eastern Conference of Original Free Will Baptists. The educational philosophy at KCA lends itself to continue the sowing, watering, and reaping of a spiritual harvest.
The board of directors at Kingdom Christian Academy would like to request any history, memories, pictures, or further information regarding this property so they may record it to continue the godly heritage that is woven there. If you have something to share, please submit it via e-mail to <email@example.com>, by message on Facebook (Kingdom Christian Academy), or by mail at P. O. Box 1382, Beulaville, NC 28518. Your submissions will not be distributed for public use but will only be viewed by the board members. If you would like to see the continuation of ministry that was fostered by the Eastern Conference so many years ago, you can support KCA with your prayers and donations. If anyone feels led to provide financially, please send donations in the form of a check to the post office box listed above. The board of directors desires to build upon the knowledge which can be gained from recorded historic information and personal accounts as they move the ministry of Christian education forward. Please contribute your stories and help KCA continue to pass along the heritage of this place to its students so they may know the rich legacy that is the establishment of this Christian educational institution.