White residents of Prince Edward County were not unanimous in their response to closing the public schools, and differing opinions threatened to undermine established institutions, including Farmville Presbyterian Church, founded in 1844. Its pastor, the Rev. James R. Kennedy, spoke out against segregation and closing the public schools at a June 7, 1955, public meeting to discuss the preliminaries for a private whites-only school. However, some members of the congregation opposed the South Carolina native's response. Caught between his personal convictions and the will of his congregation, Kennedy elected to resign his post in June 1956 rather than divide the church. The basement of the church and others nearby served as classrooms for the white Prince Edward Academy when it opened in September 1959.