The campus of Fruitland Baptist Bible College has been dedicated to Christian education since 1899. In that year a Christian high school was founded to serve local and boarding students. Local Baptists began the school and later formed a partnership with the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Fruitland College offered a Christian secondary education until the school was closed in 1936. The property was purchased later by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina with the possibility of developing a conference center. The facilities were used for that purpose during the summer for several years.
Dr. J. C. Canipe, who was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Boone, North Carolina, began classes there to assist local pastors who had little opportunity for formal training. Dr. Canipe was also the Director of Evangelism for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. In 1946 the State Convention invited Dr. Canipe to move the classes he was offering to the Fruitland campus and Fruitland Baptist Bible College was born. Dr. Canipe was the first president and Fruitland was part of the Missions Division of the NC Baptist Convention.
Dr. Canipe served until his retirement in 1960. Fritz Hemphill, a pastor from Hickory, NC became president. He served until his resignation and was succeeded by Gary Harthcock, a layman and a leader in lay-evangelism in the state. He served until he and his wife were appointed missionaries to Antigua in the West Indies. Alex Booth, who had been serving as Dean, became the next president and served until his retirement in 1989. Mack Roberts, a pastor from Fayetteville, NC succeeded Dr. Booth as president. After the resignation of Mack Roberts, Randy Kilby became the sixth president of Fruitland in July, 1994. He came from a position as Vice President of Admissions at Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky. Following Randy’s untimely death in 1997, Dr. Kenneth Ridings was named the 7th President of the college. He was born and reared in Fingerville, SC, and was Professor of Homiletics since 1968. Our 8th and current president David Horton served as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 2003 to 2005, he also served as pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Greensboro for 16 years.
Fruitland transitioned from being a ministry of the Missions Division of the state convention to being an agency of the General Board of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and has a rotating Board of Directors. The school continues to make every effort to be “true to God’s Word and loyal to His purpose.”