The New Free Hope Independent Church has not always been “Independent”. The original church, Free Hope A.M.E. was founded in 1885 by Tom Dixon. Their first church service was held in a house. They later used a log cabin which was also used for a school. Later the members of the church constructed their own building, in which the materials and labor were donated by the members.
After more than 70 years at Free Hope A. M. E. Church which was located at that time on highway 21 in the Killian Community, it became necessary to move on and to construct a new sanctuary. With the generosity of Mrs. Eliza Goodwin, who donated the property in 1956 to the trustees of the church, they were able to complete the new building in 1958. With their 30 members, Free Hope A. M. E. Church moved to it’s new and present location at 1128 Marthan Road, Blythewood SC.
The new building was constructed by Frank Arthur, John Coleman, Charlie Coleman, Paul Wages, Douglas Arthur, James Brown, Joseph Arthur, Jr., Lindbergh Jenkins, George Outen and Floyd Waden They donated many hours of their time for labor and their finances to purchase material, as their fathers did before them.
The men were not the only ones who contributed to the construction of the new building, the ladies worked diligently to assist where ever possible. Sis. Ophelia Arthur and Sis. Jessie Brown purchased the first set of pulpit furniture for the new sanctuary. Some of the other ladies who were just as dedicated were Sis. Maggie Wages, Sis. Estelle Garrett, Sis. Leola Gray and Sis. Hattie Wages.
There were many others who helped because we were all family members trying to get a job done. (From the contributors named in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs, at the time of this update, all are deceased with the exception of Douglas Arthur and John Coleman).
After months of hard work and many sacrifices, the first service was held at “New Free Hope” on September 19, 1958. At that time, the Pastor was Rev. J. R. Holmes and his first sermon was “The Temple Of Jesus”. Rev. Holmes only stayed on for two months and his replacement was Rev. Orlando Price who was a native African.
After moving into the new building we remained in the A. M. E. Conference for another 23 years and we had many pastors: Rev. J. R. Whitaker, Rev. Christopher C. Dixon, Rev. C. W. Herbert, Rev. William Brown, Rev. Bradley, Rev. Kitt and Rev. Charles McLamore.
From 1974 through 1985 there was a great deal of improvements made to the building. An Educational Building was added, which included two new restrooms, a complete kitchen, a fellowship hall, two class rooms and a Pastor’s study. Central heat and air conditioning was installed. A new ceiling was put in, new pulpit furniture was purchased, a baptismal pool and a speaker system was installed.
Like many other churches and organizations we had our share of problems. On January 18, 1981 the members of the New Free Hope A. M. E. Church decided that they no longer wanted to be part of the A. M. E. Conference.
We had been with them for such a long time which is why this was not an easy decision to make. But the majority of the members voted to pull out. The Bishop of the Seventh District did not make it easy for us to dissolve our affiliation with the A. M. E. however, with our faith in God we were able to withstand the pressures that were put on us from the A.M.E. Conference. This decision was made in an effort for the church to grow spiritually, physically and financially.
In April of 1981, we selected Rev. Tommy L. Brown as our first independent pastor and he is still with us. Under the leadership and guidance of Pastor Brown, we have accomplished many good things. As our church membership increased, so did Pastor Brown’s education and his knowledge of God’s word. By his continuing efforts to learn God’s word, he has grown and has been able to impart much wisdom and knowledge to the members who take advantage of his Bible classes.
After five years under the leadership of Pastor Brown, New Free Hope A. M. E. legally became the “New Free Hope Independent Church.”
In late 2000, we envisioned our sanctuary being remolded. With much prayer and fasting that vision came to pass in early 2001. The renovation included enlarged choir stands, additional sanctuary seating, two new restrooms and a vestibule.