Our History

Limmie Nathaniel Forbes
Bishop Emeritus

The History of Leventon Chapel

Leventon Chapel Original Free Will Baptist Church is a part of that Great Church that began more than 2000 years ago. St. Matthew 16:18 states, “And I say unto Thee, Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The church must be a group of God-fearing Christians whose lives have been changed from nature to grace.

We have found that we can learn much from studying our history; and to neglect that task can have fatal consequences for our future. To ignore history would be like looking at a tree without being aware of the roots that sustain it. Leventon Chapel Church’s history encompasses the grassroots of the community – it was first owned by our white brethren.

In 1866, three years after the Emancipation Proclamation, our Ancestors purchased the church from them. Originally located at 7542 Highway 58, Stantonsburg, NC, Leventon Chapel’s founding leadership was placed in the capable hands of Reverend C. C. Forbes as the first Pastor. It was during his 12-year tenure that Leventon Chapel became an early member of the Middle Eastern District Original Free Will Baptist Conference, founded in 1868 with Reverend Forbes as one of the four Conference historians validating its origin.

Reverend Forbes’ mantra was that Leventon be built on no other foundation than Jesus Christ thus; laying the groundwork for it to triumph for generations to come. In the Post-Slavery years, there were turbulent times, yet Leventon Chapel remained a catalyst for spiritual rejuvenation and a beacon of hope for Negroes. An era of historical forerunners would follow in the footsteps of Reverend Forbes as Pastor to include: 2nd Pastor – Reverend Sam Tucker; 3rd Pastor – Dr. J. H. Skinner; 4th Pastor – Reverend D. P. Elliott; 5th Pastor – Reverend Albert Bynum – who served 21 years; 6th Pastor – Reverend L. A. Lofton – who served 3 years and was succeeded by Reverend Willie McLondon, the 7th Pastor under whom the first choir was organized in 1937. These historical faces of wisdom kept the faith and the church maintained its stature as a pillar in the Bullhead Community.

The 8th Pastor – was Reverend D. W. Dupree, known to many as Father Dupree, served from 1941 – 1957. Under his leadership most of our Auxiliaries were chartered as also the first Junior Choir. Many joyful services enhanced the audience that would overflow the structure and many souls were added to the church.

During Father Dupree’s pastorate, little did Leventon know that God was shaping the future of the Original Free Will Baptist Conference. The Master, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, had planted a trailblazer within our flock named, Brother Limmie Nathaniel Forbes, to lead it in his destined time. This “Samuel’s,” path to leadership started as a young collector for the Sunshine Band Convention. Brother Limmie Forbes was the 1st President of the YPCL Convention and organized the Male Chorus as well as the Helping Hand Auxiliary. After serving faithfully, Father Dupree resigned due to declining health.

The 9th Pastor – Reverend J. F. Elliott was our leader from 1957-1962. Initially worshipping in the old framed structure, Reverend Elliott had an inclination to renovate and under his leadership the seed for expansion was sown. The church was brick veneered along with gas heaters installed, replacing the pot-bellied stove. What a welcomed transformation for Leventon Chapel!

Now residing in the state of New Jersey, our Brother Limmie Forbes was called and commissioned into the field of ministry. Our hearts were overjoyed and in 1959, he returned to his home church to preach his initial sermon. After also heeding the call of Pastorship, the Elder L. N. Forbes would soon become Pastor L. N. Forbes. He organized and established Faith Temple #1 Church in East Orange, NJ and soon followed with Faith Temple #2 Church in Seat Pleasant, MD and years later, Faith Temple #1 & #2 Extension Church in Wilson, NC. Leventon Chapel was proud of its sprouts and would enjoy numerous visits to our Native Son’s houses of worship.

The Man of Love and Concern, Elder L. N. Forbes continued to return to his homage year after year spreading the gospel. He began a Christmas Sunrise Service here inspiring many faiths, out-of-towners, friends and acquaintances to travel even 100 miles in the early morning hours to join together and worship on Christ’s birthday overcrowding the church’s capacity. In 1962, Reverend Elliott resigned.

That same year, 1962, the 10th Pastor – Reverend W. T. Barrow began his tenure that lasted until 1971. Four ministers were called to declare God’s Word: Evangelist Alberta Warren, Evangelist Cleatrice Baldwin, Elder Demetrius Forbes and Evangelist Virginia Ward, who also established another sprout, Greater Zion OFWB Church. Two other Ministers united into the fellowship, Mother Gussie Baker and Elder B. G. Ward, the latter being named the Junior Pastor. It was during these years that many of our baby-boomers started their Christian walk here during the period of segregation.

With God’s framework for the future of our Conference in place, Elder Limmie Forbes became the Vice-Moderator of the OFWB Conference. Four years later, in 1968, the mantle of leadership God had destined for him became a reality and thus Moderator L. N. Forbes became the longest and one of the most effective leaders of the Original Free Will Baptist Conference. Our Native son’s title then became Bishop L. N. Forbes. In October 1971, an aging Elder Barrow resigned as Pastor. He and his devoted wife left the church with fond memories.

Our 11th Pastor – Elder J. N. Perry, a mentor of Bishop L. N. Forbes, would take the helm as our leader in 1971. Throughout his tenure the membership increased considerably. With a new generation of youth, a Sunshine Band Choir was envisioned and realized early in Elder Perry’s ministry. During his pastorate, the following entered the Ministry: Elder Marvin Taylor, Evangelist Jannettie Sauls, Evangelist Madie Hill and Elder Elbert Forbes. Dr Lionel Moore affiliated with the church as well. Elder Perry was committed to facilitating some much needed improvements to the church – new restrooms were added to the front entrance, as was a Pastor’s Study, air-conditioning installed and new pews were purchased along with other additions. Our beloved Bishop Forbes blessed his home church with carpeting throughout the entire sanctuary. Elder Perry, who later became Bishop Perry, had a deep love for Leventon and made a positive impact during his time as Pastor. Even after he ventured on his own in 1980, he maintained a life-long relationship with the church – our friendship remained constant.

The 12th and longest reigning Pastor of 30 years – Elder George Wiggins became our Shepherd in1980. The following individuals accepted the call to the ministry: Evangelist Manetta Brown, Evangelist Burnell Forbes, Minister Kevin Cruz, Evangelist Julia Farmer and Elder Reginald Wiggins. Elder George Ward and Minister Rodney Brown united in the Fellowship. Deacon Roy Pope was named the 1st Church Father and Mother Beatrice Forbes was named the 1st Church Mother. In addition to other Ministries, a Youth Outreach, a Van Ministry, Tape Ministry and a progressive Vacation Bible School were initiated under his administration.

Additional renovations were also made to the church – the expansion of the Fellowship Hall, the addition of a Baptismal Pool and the refurbishing of the sanctuary. A successful building fund drive was launched and in September 2007, the church purchased seven acres of nearby property in fulfilling our vision to Build God’s House. Leventon Chapel was blessed with one who served with humility and in 2010, Pastor and Supervisor George Wiggins retired with many happy memories of time well-spent with those whom he had nurtured over the years.

13th Pastor – In October 2010 Leventon Chapel reached within its own ranks and selected one of our Sons in the Gospel, Elder Elbert Forbes to serve the church as Pastor. In 2016, Evangelist Julia Farmer was named as the Assistant Pastor in addition to two new mothers being ordained. Sadly, we grieved the loss of our Native Son, Bishop L. N. Forbes in 2019. His life was a legacy and he touched the lives of so many.

It was during Elder Elbert Forbes tenure that Leventon Chapel reached a significant period in our church’s timeline when we celebrated our 150th Year Anniversary Celebration in 2016. O’ What a Happy Time! Former members, family descendants and friends were present on this momentous occasion to reflect upon our heritage. It was a time of rejoicing for God’s goodness and mercies down through the years.

However, on April 20, 2019, Leventon Chapel experienced what some thought was the darkest day in our church’s history. On the eve of Easter Sunday, we watched in awe as our spiritual home burned to the ground after standing firm for 153 years. Tears flowed as we reminisced on childhood memories, numerous church services, weddings, baptisms, the altar we gave our souls to Christ on, and the list goes on, all gone. Our hearts were too saddened at the moment to come to the realization that God was using our deepest pain as the launching pad for our greatest calling. Jeremiah 29:11 reminded us that the Lord had plans for us and those plans were to give Leventon Chapel hope and a future. It was this hope and plan that encouraged our hearts, strengthened our weakened souls and rekindled our spirits to “Rise Up and Build” for our vision of a new church was coming to pass.

Almost one year later, March 2020, with God as our builder and maker, we broke ground on our new earthly tabernacle at the onset of the greatest pandemic that the world had ever seen. Already temporarily worshipping at the L. N. Forbes Tabernacle, our lives changed completely with global shutdowns due to the covid-19 virus that would consume many, many lives. The houses of worship were not exempt; therefore, we quickly regrouped and embraced technology as Zoom became our mode of worship. In the midst of it all, with much prayer, dedicated teamwork and collaboration, the construction moved forward and Leventon Chapel rose again at 6839 Speights Bridge Road on schedule! A brand-new, 6,550 square feet, fully-furnished and debt-free edifice was completed in November 2020 and dedicated back to God on December 13, 2020. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Determined to see this challenging task fully completed and restored, Pastor Forbes stayed the course, worked tirelessly and ended his 10-year tenure on a high note; he gracefully stepped aside as Pastor making way for a breath of fresh air. The legacy of Pastor Elbert Forbes on this side of the vineyard was completed in October 2020.

As only predestined by God, Bishop Arinzor Blue was elected and accepted the calling to become the 14th Shepherd of Leventon Chapel. In January 2021, the torch was passed on and Bishop Blue began immediately to embrace a fresh, new beginning for Leventon Chapel Church. This would include blending the congregation of Faith Temple #1 & #2 Extension Church in Wilson, NC, where he succeeded the late Bishop L. N. Forbes as Pastor, with Leventon Chapel to become one united body of seasoned saints working together for the cause of Christ.

A powerful embodiment of the gospel, Bishop Blue’s life mirrors the image of his Spiritual Father, Bishop Forbes. Bishop Blue challenges his parishioners to “follow him as he follows Christ.” One of his primary initiatives is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ via multiple social media platforms and radio broadcasts – to reach lost souls. Bishop Blue introduced digital giving solutions for donors and is committed to community engagement via Missions and Outreach. Therefore, with a renewed spirit, youthful regeneration and a sound plan for the future, it is Bishop Arinzor Blue that will usher Leventon Chapel to the next level in Kingdom Building.

As we reflect on our church’s history, it is one that has been punctuated with growth, spiritual awakenings, miracles and outreach – the accomplishments are legion. The many blessings of the Lord far outnumber the setbacks, disappointments and heartaches experienced. Yes, God has been faithful!

Our ancestors stepped out on faith and trusted God and we are beneficiaries of the road they trod. Like our Savior who started with just a few followers, our Pioneers nurtured the seed of a small group into a vibrant bastion of Christianity. We salute them, for they labored not only for themselves, but for generations unborn. They have gone on before us, but their works are still living and we are enjoying the fruits of their labor. Thus, as we look back over our glorious past, we know that with God’s continued grace, we can look forward to an even greater future.

We endeavor to uphold what our forebearers bequeathed in 1866 and accept the challenge to preserve the precepts of this great heritage. Our strength and stability have been sustained by the providential hand of God. It is He who will write the final chapter of Leventon Chapel OFWB Church. It Doth Not Yet Appear What We Shall Be. 1 John 3:2.