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A False Narrative

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A False Narrative

Posted on Mon, Aug 28, 2023

The Truth Be Told

The Truth About 562 Carthage Street: Beyond Misconceptions and Misinformation

"A lie can catch a ride with anybody but truth will walk alone"

To you, the reader, your presence here may result from an alliance with the James & Beverley Prince Ministries, Walk By Faith Christian Center, Inc., or, considering the storm of animosity we've recently encountered, perhaps you've been swayed by a misguided narrative. Unhappily, we've noted a surge in the unwelcome surveillance of our pastors and our church—an act that carries the shadow of possible violence. The echo of current events, fraught with tumult and misunderstanding, adds weight to our concern.

The torrent of hatred, the bitter words launched against us, they all stem from a falsehood—an illusion fashioned by individuals with questionable intentions. Their deception centers on the house at 562 Carthage Street in Cameron, North Carolina, painted as a "historic home"—an alluring tale, but far from the truth. Yes, the house is old, and many look upon it with nostalgic fondness, but the memories it evokes are deeply subjective, largely dependent on personal histories and perceptions.

Let's shine a light on the facts. Walk By Faith Christian Center, Inc., our pastors, members, and supporters, never retaliated against those striving to "Save Miss Belles". We chose silence, respecting the emotional ties many held for the house, and wished not to seem as though we were undermining their fundraising efforts. Yet, despite our restraint, we were pelted with insults, false accusations, threats, and vilification. The media, both print and online, amplified the rumor of an endangered "historic" home.

With the falsehood exposed, let's examine the facts about our church, our pastors, and our intentions for 562 Carthage Street. This property was never subjected to a professional engineering evaluation or structural analysis by the interested private individual who intended to repurpose the house for Air B&B use.

Not officially a historic home, the house over the years has undergone significant alterations and renovations, leaving no noteworthy architectural heritage. If there had been any, we would have certainly considered donating them to the community. Some may perceive the architectural details at the front of the house as original. However, these enhancements were part of our effort to restore the visual appeal of a property that had fallen into neglect from the previous owners. Our conversations with contractors and restoration experts, along with our firsthand experience with the house, confirmed that the structure, having suffered years of neglect and shoddy construction, would likely not survive a relocation attempt, nor should or could it be restored.

Contrary to rumor, the community's attempt to raise $175,000 to move the house, of which $65,000 alone was to raise power lines, fell short of the $500,000+ typically required to move a house of this nature in good condition and does not include a necessary foundation to receive it and renovations to restore it. The cost of restoring it would have been economically unfeasible. To be clear, the house could not be restored given the preexisting condition at purchase.

It's critical to note that the process to designate a home as a landmark must be followed correctly. When we applied for demolition, as we believed was the most fitting course of action, our application was rejected on the basis that the house was a state-recognized historical landmark—an incorrect assertion. Only after our application did the town invest effort in creating a historic preservation commission more than seven (7) years after we bought the home.

As property owners, we agreed to pause our plans and gift the structure, but the private individual, through legal counsel, decided not to proceed due to potential liabilities.

We've had our legal and property rights interfered with, and were we not within our legal rights, the Town of Cameron and the County of Moore would not have issued permits for removing a house that was beyond salvaging.

In 2015, our church took a leap of faith and purchased 562 Carthage Street, an abandoned, dilapidated structure crying out for tender care and restoration. The entire town, the public at large, they all had their chance to salvage this residence. However, no one stepped forward. We decided to act, for we saw not just a run-down house, but a potential sanctuary, an outreach center for the homeless, perhaps even a unique wedding venue, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the community.

In an act of pure commitment, we invested thousands of dollars in an attempt to reverse years of previous neglect, age, and restore the property's splendor, elevating its curb appeal. But it's vital to set the record straight. This property was not, nor has it ever been, designated a landmark following any legal process under the state enabling legislation. Further, it is not bound by the Town of Cameron's Historic Preservation Commission or its recently crafted historic commission overlay.

As for the question of a historic notation on the property deed of 562 Carthage Street, let there be no ambiguity. No such annotation exists on the deed or any verifiable records.

We ask that you take a moment to understand about local historic property designations in North Carolina:

As a community-centric church, we responded positively when approached by the Town of Cameron's clerk and finance officer, the town attorney, and a private individual who serves on the town's newly created preservation board. The intention was to relocate the home to private property, and we agreed to donate the house.

Before the request for donation, we conducted thorough inspections, uncovering asbestos, mold, wood rot, and termite damage that we remediated. We communicated these findings to the potential donee, also adhering to the requirements of the Cameron zoning permit application packet.

As a safety measure, we disconnected water and power, ensuring that the house was safe and ready for relocation. However, the responsibility and liability of the move rested squarely on the donee.

Our intentions were genuine and devoid of monetary motivations. We neither received nor solicited any funds from the donee. Multiple occasions saw us granting permission for the donee to inspect the property as he saw fit.

Despite a flurry of speculations, 562 Carthage Street was never listed for sale. Our donation was clearly defined – it pertained solely to the house, not the land it rested upon. Our investigations revealed that the cost of moving the house would be considerably higher than the donee's initial estimates.

We invested time and resources, using reliable vendors to evaluate the potential risks and liabilities associated with moving the house. Our application to the zoning authority was delayed, to facilitate the community's fundraising efforts.

Our church never discouraged the Cameron Historic Preservation Commission (CHPC) from relocating the house. We were sensitive to the fundraising deadline established by the CHPC, even extending the deadline to give the community more time to raise funds.

Our stewardship of 562 Carthage Street was exemplary. We removed damaging trees, repaired the leaky roof, replaced rotting fences, addressed water leakage issues, and hauled in gravel to prevent driveway washouts. We made multiple attempts to renovate the house, but were advised that rebuilding from scratch would be more cost-effective.

Contrary to rumors, we did not permit anyone to go scavenger hunting on the property post-demolition. Such actions pose a safety risk and are considered trespassing. We stand committed to the welfare and enhancement of our community and the upkeep of 562 Carthage Street, in all its significance.

Indeed, there are those among you who, no matter the efforts we make, no matter the evidence we present, will remain unwilling to accept that we have fulfilled our calling in this ministry, in stewarding 562 Carthage Street for the purpose God intended. We have repeatedly clarified our intention for these grounds to serve our ministry, and we will remain steadfast in defending our right to do so.

Speculations swirl around the financial gain that 'The Princes' supposedly derive from the property. Let me put those rumors to rest, once and for all. There is no such financial benefit. Our roles in this ministry are not self-serving, but rather aimed at serving others. We support the ministry; it does not support us. While we are indeed entitled by law to draw a salary, we do not. The property is not our personal possession, and we extract no financial advantage from it, even though the law grants us the right to do so.

As you assert your rights to voice your opinions, however fraught with animosity they may be, we stand firm on our God-given and legally established rights to practice our beliefs and express our faith in Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone is free to choose their religious institution. No one is obliged to visit, support, or attend Walk By Faith Christian Center, Inc., though our doors are always open to all. As the elders we know would say, our doors hang on welcoming hinges.

However, your right to choose and speak does not give you the right to sow hatred, propagate baseless rumors about our church, our pastors, or threaten our pastors and parishioners. Be cautious about the messages you share on social media, or the media coverage you invite to further your agenda. These actions could potentially open you up to personal legal liabilities.

We remain unswayed by these tactics of intimidation, these machinations of the enemy. As we stand upon the Word of God, we remain vigilant, prayerful, and watchful. We will continue to serve our community, to live out our faith, and to use the gifts we have been given for the betterment of all.

In His Service,

Senior Pastor, Apostle James A. Prince, Sr.

Executive Pastor Beverley M. Prince

Walk By Faith Christian Center Inc.

232 Carter Street

Cameron, North Carolina 28326

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