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Former gospel hall to reopen as ministry center

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KENLY— After stepping down as pastor at Kenly Missionary Baptist Church in 2017, George Arant said he still felt the need to devote his life to ministry, but not in a church setting.

Arant said he found the answer to his prayers in the form of a downtown Kenly building on East Second Street that had previously housed the Kenly Gospel Music Hall from 1993 until it closed in 2017.

The facility had served as home of The Redeemed, a popular gospel music group that had performed there on a weekly basis and had developed quite a following over the years, Arant explained.

After the music hall closed, the building became available. Arant purchased it from owner Joey Holland in May.

Shortly thereafter, Arant said he started planning how he wanted to use the roughly 1,500 square feet of space.

Arant decided to call the place The Guest Room and explained how he arrived at the name.

“When Jesus was getting ready to celebrate the last supper with his disciples, he told them to go find a guest room where they could celebrate the last meal together,” he said.

The Guest Room will not be a church, Arant said.

“I want this to be a faith-based venture and I am excited about what I believe God is going to do with it,” said Arant. “I want to use it to bring people together and help improve our community. Unity is the goal.”

Arant said his plans include forming a Christian business association to help inspire the community and to bring other groups together to brainstorm ways to improve Kenly and make the town friendlier.

He said he hopes the facility will serve as a place to get together with educators, community leaders and representatives of various Christian denominations and where workshops, symposiums and seminars can be held.

He also wants to have some days when The Guest Room is open for coffee, doughnuts and conversation.

Arant said the building has already hosted Kenly Ministerial Association and Martin Luther King Community Association meetings.

The Guest Room has been renovated with a new ceiling, floor, carpet and lighting, Arant said, along with an improved stage and restrooms.

Arant has also replaced the chairs, quipping that the former music hall was the only ministry center he’d seen where the front rows showed more signs of wear and tear than the seats in the back.

Plans are in the works to also improve the front façade along with various other finishing touches and Arant is hoping to be open and in the building by September.

“I think the people who come in who had been in the old building are going to be surprised,” he said.

Arant said he plans to invite groups and individuals from within the community and hold several open houses over the next few weeks so he can explain how The Guest Room will work.