On occasion, God places the outline of a grand idea into a heart. Such an idea may become a passion and a purpose in the lives of those who say "yes" to the Lord's guidance. In 1996, the vision for a classical and Christian school was thus implanted in the heart of a parent. After several months of prayer, the Lord united a unique group of four parents who dedicated themselves to the planning and implementation of the vision for a K-12th grade school based upon the principles of classical education in a grace-oriented Christian environment.
After one year, this Steering Committee of four had organized the resources needed to open the doors of Veritas Christian Academy (VCA) at Faith Bible Church in Mills River, a facility made available rent free. In August, 1998, 4 faculty members, 2 staff members, and 1 full-time volunteer began serving 56 students in grades K-6. One Steering Committee member was selected as Head of School and two committee members became the first Trustees and the foundation for the current Board of Trustees. With rapid growth, a larger facility was needed, and VCA moved to Arden First Baptist Church (AFBC) for a 2-1/2 year period beginning in 1999.
The Lord's blessings have been present throughout the history of Veritas. God's guidance was especially evident during the 12 months prior to the move from the temporary quarters in AFBC to our permanent home in Fletcher. The lease with AFBC was scheduled to end on December 31, 2001, and there were no clear options for a new home. In January, 2001, we began seeking God's direction for the future through times of prayer and fasting. In February, 2001, we learned that Fletcher Elementary School was going to be vacated and might be offered for sale by the county. But there was one complication, Fletcher First Baptist Church (FFBC) wanted the property as well. Meetings with the leadership of FFBC culminated in an agreement that outlined a division of the property that met the needs of the school and the church.
There was yet another complication; 1.5 million dollars was required to complete the sale. We turned our focus to strategic planning, hired a Development Coordinator and launched a Capital Campaign in June, 2001. Major repairs and renovations were essential prior to moving into the Fletcher Elementary School building; the site engineer estimated the cost at $520,000.00. We contacted bankers, various professionals, and many in the construction trade. A bid to purchase the property was formulated and submitted to the county. At the time, it appeared that no one else was interested in purchasing the property. On September 4, 2001, the bidding was scheduled to close at 5:00 p.m., but much to our surprise, an upset bid was entered at 4:00 p.m. After intense discussions, the second bidder withdrew the upset bid. On September 17, 2001, our bid was accepted by the county. On that day, we knew Veritas Christian Academy would have a new home.
We raised $500,000.00 in pledges and donations, but we were still seeking an institution to provide a loan for the property to a young school with few assets. An anonymous guarantor stepped forward and the Bank of Asheville provided the funds. The sale required legal work, a title search, an appraisal, a survey, an environmental inspection, and the acquisition of non-profit, tax exempt status.
But what about expansion? How can we grow at this new location? Eleven acres of adjacent land suddenly came on the market. A local developer owned the acreage, but the price was out of our reach. Negotiations continued, but we had no money and the developer wanted to close in one week. On the final day, an anonymous philanthropist agreed to purchase 6 of the 11 acres, offering to hold this property until the school was ready to purchase it (see our Land Survey). God had provided VCA with a future and a hope.
There were still surprises in store. A change in the interpretation of the fire code threatened a delay in occupancy, but this difficulty was overcome. A concern arose in regard to the building code and threatened yet another delay. It, too, was overcome. The City Planning Board's approval was required. The meeting began with many questions, but after a thorough discussion, the City Planning Board offered strong support.
Veritas Christian Academy, Inc., took ownership of the facility on December 4, 2001. The rush to coordinate the work of a host of parent volunteers and subcontractors began. Facility upgrades included a new fire alarm system, carpet, paint, insulation, plumbing, electrical work, signage, pest control, and remodeling. Parents donated gifts of time, talent, meals, equipment, and much more. The final closing with Fletcher First Baptist Church took place on December 31, 2001, just in time to assure our tax free status for the upcoming year. Final cleaning and classroom preparation ensued. Students began classes in their new home on January 7, 2002. We were not finished, but we were ready.
This accomplishment was celebrated at a special event on January 6, 2002, and a bronze plaque remains aside the main entrance in commemoration. The land and these buildings are a gift; a gift from God. He delivered again and again; never too early, but never too late.