In 1908, 13 men and women stepped out in faith as the organizational members of a Baptist church on the south side of Union.
On Oct. 12, that church, Tabernacle Baptist, will take time to look back and celebrate its history with a special centennial service.
The morning worship service will begin at 10:45. Dr. Alaistar Walker, who has been serving as interim pastor at the church, will give the welcome. Those attending may wear old fashioned, early 1900s-style clothing.
A skit about the 13 charter members will be presented.
The Rev. Milton Parker, Rev. Ralph Brown and Rev. James Blackwood Jr. speak on some of their past memories of the church.
The offertory prayer will be led by Tommy Austin.
The Rev. Keith Feather will bring the children's sermon.
The Rev. Mike Moody, who served Tabernacle Baptist from 1989 to 1994, will be introduced by Al Smith and will bring the message.
Closing prayer will be led by The Rev. Ben Reynolds.
The original sanctuary burned in 1958. A time capsule placed after the church was rebuilt will opened during the centennial service.
Lunch will be served in the Family Life Center following the worship service. After the meal, those attending are invited back to the sanctuary for music. to watch a picture video of times past and for other activities.
Those attending are asked to bring a well-filled basket for the meal. Meat will be provided by the church. Food may be left at the Family Life Center before the service.
The following history is condensed from a history provided by Mary Garner to The Union Daily Times for a 2003 special edition:
Before the organization of a Baptist church in south Union, because the population was not sufficient to support separate churches, all denominations met and worshiped in a building in this section known as the “Reading Room.” A Union Sunday School was promoted for some time with Allen Nicholson serving as superintendent.
After considerable growth, the Methodists organized a church and the Baptists continued to worship in the Reading Room. Three workers came into the community, Mr. and Mrs. J.F. Caudle and Miss Alexander (the latter being sent by the Home Board.) She was a wonderful worker, especially with young people. It was during this time that Mr. and Mrs. Caudle were with us that the first Baptist Sunday School was organized, around 1904. The Sunday School did well under Mr. Caudle's direction s superintendent. One great accomplishment was the securing of funds with which they purchased a lot for the church building.
On Nov. 26, 1908, a meeting was held to make plans for the organization of a Baptist Church and on Nov. 29, the church organized with 13 members, namely G.L. Kirby, Eugene Gregory, R.E. Henderson, Mrs. Dora McDaniel, J.B. Kirby, Mr. and Mrs. D.F. Bartlett, Mrs. J.W. Gilbert, Miss Lester White, C.A. Kirby, J.F. Caudle, Miss Hattie Sumner and Frank Hart.
On March 14, 1909, Rev. J.C. Gillespie was called as pastor. An offering was taken to build a church on the lot previously purchased. Gillespie was pastor of Second Baptist Church at that time and held services with Tabernacle two or three times a month in the Reading Room.
According to the Dec. 10, 1912 issue of Progress newspaper, the first formal service was held in “Baptist Tabernacle” in south Union and the new church building was crowded to its “utmost capacity.” The sermon was preached by Rev. W.D. Wakefield whose text was taken from Acts 2:47 and his subject “The Ideal Church.”
Over the next decades, Tabernacle was remodeled and additions made as its congregation grew.
The church was destroyed by fire on Jan. 8, 1958. A $210,000 insurance policy did not completely cover the loss but went a long way in aiding the rebuilding. On Easter Sunday, March 29, 1959, services were held in the new building with 623 present for Sunday School and 700 for worship service. On April 26, 1959, Michael Anthony was the first candidate baptized in the new baptistery.
On Nov. 2, 1980, the church held services to dedicate the completed Family Life Center.
The church voted in 1999 to complete the second and third phases of its educational building at a cost of $650,000. In its history, the church has had 27 building additions.
“For the things the church has been able to accomplish during the past years by the leadership of the Lord, we would give honor to whom honor is due, to all of those who have done their part, for all who are still with us, for all who have gone from us to other churches, for all who are ‘absent from the body, but present with the Lord,' we give thanks,” Mrs. Garner submitted in her history. “Looking back and recalling the good hand of the Lord upon us and praising the Holy Spirit for power and leadership, we can say, ‘Now, therefore our God, we thank thee and praise thy glorious name. The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”