History of Dunlap and Adoption Assistance

A rich history dedicated to loving and serving the least of these.

History of Dunlap

A rich history dedicated to loving and serving the least of these.

For your reference

The History of Dunlap Orphanage

Dunlap served as the denomination”™s orphanage from 1904 until June 30, 1978. The vision for an orphanage, run and supported by the ARP denomination, began with Rev. J. P. Knox in 1895. Rev. Knox was serving in Hickory Grove, SC when his wife became deathly ill. He pleaded with the Lord to make his wife well and promised to do some special work for Him, if He would heal her. Mrs. Lutie Brice Knox recovered from her illness and, soon after, the couple set about carrying out the plan to provide a home for, and minister to, fatherless and motherless little ones. The home was formally opened on November 25, 1897 (Thanksgiving Day) in Hickory Grove, SC on 2 and a half acres of land. Over the next few years, it became evident that it would be best to have some farm land, the cultivation of which would give employment to the children in the home as well as increase the revenues of the institution. Hearing of the need, the Dunlap family decided to give over 300 acres of farmland in West Tennessee to the cause. Toward the close of his life, at the urgings of his daughter, William H. Dunlap built a house with the intent of it being the beginnings of an orphanage after his passing. William H. Dunlap died on January 26, 1903 and on October 3, 1903, his daughter, Mrs. Anna Belle Dunlap McDaniel carried out the plan made by her father by deeding to the Trustees of Synod of the ARP Church the Dunlap Home together with 245 acres of land. On October 28, Mrs. F. P. Spain, Mr. Dunlap”™s sister, added to the bequest by deeding to the Synod 91 acres of land. These gifts were made as a memorial to an honorable man and were to bear the name of William H. Dunlap.

Over the next several decades, Dunlap Orphanage thrived, adding barns and dormitories, Jersey cows and orchards, a car shed, tool house, smokehouse, and laundry. There were many faithful workers who cared for the children and worked hard to improve their quality of life. The health of the children was carefully looked after, thanks to the cooperation of local doctors and the Methodist Hospital in Memphis. The children attended their own grammar school on the grounds of the Orphanage, then rode the bus to Brighton High School in town. The Orphanage was appreciated and respected throughout the surrounding areas, both for what it stood for and for the high grade of work being done there.

By the 1950”™s, the Orphanage had reached a capacity of 60 children. Additional buildings were added so that the children “could be housed in a more home-like atmosphere.” In 1962, the YPCU raised money from many ARPs and others for a swimming pool to be built on the grounds. A bus was also purchased and a choir of children was organized. Each fall the children sang in ARP Churches across the Synod. The bus also transported the children to Bonclarken conferences and school events.

Unfortunately, the beginning of the end came in 1969 when the Dunlap Board was asked by the Tennessee Welfare Department to sign the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which stated that “no child would be denied admittance because of race, creed or color.” The Trustees, after much discussion, decided not to sign. In the past, Dunlap had depended largely on the welfare departments of the government to do the casework for the children. After declining to sign the Civil Rights Act, all referrals from the welfare departments and social service agencies immediately stopped. Referrals were made directly from the juvenile courts with no screening or follow up, which social services had provided in the past. The results were disastrous. Enrollment began to decline, Dunlap no longer received government funding, and 80 percent of the children who were enrolled were not orphans, but wards of the court. The staff were not trained nor equipped to handle this new group of children. Dunlap began operating on a deficit, most of the staff resigned as the population changed and there were six superintendents within four years. Most ARP children were sent to foster homes, rather than to Dunlap Orphanage.

Finally, in 1975, the Trustees voted for compliance with the Civil Rights Act. Referrals from previous channels began again and the residing children who were not orphans were returned to their families. Attempts were made to develop an appropriate and up-to-date program, including arranging one cottage as a family unit, which was the trend at the time. This was very successful. But, the damage to the orphanage had already been done and, try as they might, the leadership was never able to help the orphanage fully recover. By 1977, there were only 13 children residing at Dunlap. Moderator Grady Oates suggested that the ministry was “completed” and in 1978 Synod voted to close Dunlap.

For 75 years, Dunlap had carried out the mission to “care for orphans in their distress.” Hundreds of children had been raised there, including two who went on to become ARP Pastors. Many others became Christian leaders in their communities.

Since our denomination no longer has an orphanage in place, Dunlap funds continue to be used to support Christian homes for children without parental care. Resources come from the endowment.

As the Lord prompts

Consider Giving

The Dunlap Foundation provides two giving options for those whom the Lord prompts: giving to the Foundation as a whole, from which our various ministries are funded, and to the Adoption Assistance Fund. Please prayerfully consider giving to one or both of these funds!