Like the Saints of old who; wandered in a solitary way and found no city to dwell in; so the little band of 157 persons, under the leadership of Rev. E. D. Maples, left the Corinthian Baptist Church searching for a place to worship. Finally in February 1929, in the St. Paul AME Zion Church at 1117 Home Ave., the church was organized. The name Tabernacle; suggested by Mrs. Mary Maples, wife of the pastor, was adopted. Soon the small congregation proceeded to their new home on the corner of Broadway and Home Avenue. During those early months the church suffered much, but they continued because they thought their cause to be right. They experienced many problems during that first year, common to many young churches.
In November, 1930, Rev. Maples left the church. A call was extended to Rev. Ernest C. Estell of Drakesboro, Ky., and he came on July 5, 1931. During this period, Tabernacle was literally struggling for survival, but the members had a mind to work. Rev. Estell was a dynamic preacher and a student of God’s Word. He organized mission classes and clubs. A Youth Conference was initiated bringing outstanding world renowned leaders to speak and inspire the young people. He also involved the church in the work of our denomination, local, state and national. A great moment in Rev. Estell’s life was realized when Tabernacle sent him to the World Baptist Alliance which met in Berlin, Germany in 1934. Under his leadership, Tabernacle hosted the National Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress in 1935 at Dayton Memorial Hall. The year 1937 found Tabernacle in great financial difficulty. The church was unable to get credit anywhere in the city unless someone with ability stood for that credit. Church offering had fallen off to almost nothing. The total weekly offering from all sources was approximately $40. However, God had given Tabernacle some very loyal members, and often on Sunday evenings some official board members went to these loyal members to secure funds to tide the church over until the next week or month. Rev. Estell received a call to the St. John Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. He resigned this church to accept the call and left in early December, 1937. Rev. Strobridge E. Hoard of Bowling Green, Ky., was then extended a call by this church in late December, 1937. Rev. Hoard accepted the call and came in January, 1938.
Our church was deeply in debt, but Rev. Hoard had great plans for the church. After a few short months, God took him and his home-going in April, 1938 was a tragic loss. Tabernacle had come to love him. His eloquent preaching and kind manner will long be remembered. After the death of Rev. Hoard, Tabernacle was counseled by Rev. H. Laurence McNeil, pastor of Zion Baptist Church, Dayton. It was under his guidance that our church elected the official Board as Pulpit Committee to contact various ministers. After many letters and phone calls from ministers all over the country, five deacons of Tabernacle with a member of Bethel Church, Dayton, traveled to Frankfort, Ky., to have a consultation with Rev. J. Welby Broaddus, where he was serving as pastor of First Baptist Church. Rev. Broaddus agreed to come to Dayton to conduct a week’s revival at Tabernacle in the month of May 1938. After conducting the revival, the church unanimously voted to extend a call to Rev. Broaddus to be our pastor. Rev. Broaddus accepted the call on the second Sunday of June 1938. Rev. Broaddus and our previous pastor, Rev. S. E. Hoard, had been lifelong friends in denominational work in their beloved State of Kentucky. When Rev. Broaddus began his pastorate in July, 1938, he found that the First Christian Church held the mortgage on Tabernacle Baptist Church and was about to foreclose. There was no deed or records of any kind. Rev. Broaddus got in touch with Mr. Duncan, trustee board chairman of First Christian and after several conferences it was agreed that for every dollar Tabernacle paid on the mortgage, First Christian would give us a two dollar credit. The membership was encouraged by this cooperative plan. Under Rev. Broaddus leadership and with the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, the doors of Tabernacle were kept open. Rev. Broaddus introduced many programs in the church for the spiritual, cultural and social advancement of the members. A Church Convention was inaugurated in November, 1938 for the training in actual convention procedures. IN 1940 a Church Retreat was held. This project, which replaced the youth conference, was held out of doors, and provided worship, fellowship and recreation. A Savings Club was organized on January 1, 1943. Members were urged to save weekly and many who saved through this club were able to purchase their own homes. The savings club grew and has become a bulwark of economic stability of this church. By January, 1944, our mortgage indebtedness was greatly reduced. Programs were set in motion to pay off the mortgage. The week of September 1944, on the Sixth Anniversary of Rev. Broaddus` pastorate, the mortgage was burned. Special Services were held and Rev. Ernest C. Estell was invited from Dallas to deliver the Dedicatory Sermon. A grave memorial for the late Rev. S. E. Hoard was also unveiled at these services. In 1952 the Activity Building (former parsonage) was dedicated with special services. In the interim period the church took steps to acquire properties for rental income to supplement the regular church offerings. As a result of the Savings Club, the church borrowed funds and purchased the Kennesaw Ave. apartment building. The income from rent repaid the savings club, with interest; the total transaction involved $20,000. Since this purchase, Tabernacle has acquired a double dwelling at Bank and Elgin., a double brick dwelling at 1228-30 Home Ave., a church edifice and dwelling at S. Williams and Home Ave., and a dwelling at 3730 Lakeside Drive. The debt on all these properties has been liquidated.
Rev. J. Welby Broaddus suffered several illnesses and the death of his beloved wife, Mrs. Nannie Broaddus. It became evident to Pastor Broaddus that he needed an assistant. He stated that, “Our challenge today is to continue in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, a spirit that transcends meaningless traditions which eclipse the spiritual insight of God. The Divine Call today is still the voice of the Master saying Follow Me.” The Reverend Gentry F. Worth, a Methodist minister, joined Tabernacle on October 9, 1955, as a candidate for baptism. Recognizing that Rev. Worth was knowledgeable, scholarly and a devout minister, the congregation elected him assistant to the ailing Pastor Broaddus. His guidance during uncertain times was greatly appreciated. Minister Worth served Tabernacle 15 years in this capacity before his death in August 1970.
In February 1959, plans were begun toward the building of a new sanctuary, and the church took official action to build in December, 1959. On Easter Day, April 17, 1960, Groundbreaking Services were held and construction was begun immediately. The architects, Lagerost and Walters, had designed a modern, tall, stately edifice that seemed to soar with glass, brick and metal. The overall dimensions were 53 feet wide and 135 deep, to accommodate the land available. The 12 on 12 gabled design block and concrete technique created the perfect setting topped with laminated pine arches. This was awesome and beautiful. Within fourteen months, the Fellowship Hall was opened with ribbon cutting ceremonies on Friday, June 30, 1961. This area included the kitchen and lounges for women and men. The Cornerstone was laid on Sunday, April 15, 1962, and the week of June 10-17, 1962. Dedication Ceremonies for the New Sanctuary were held. The main sanctuary accommodated approximately 624 worshippers with additional balcony seating of 390. The choir loft had 112 green theater style seats. But the focal point of the sanctuary was the elongated wooden and steel cross that centers the baptistery donated in memory of Deacon Charles Francis by his family. The total cost of construction was $350,000 in 1962. Many innovations have been introduced to enhance the worship and strengthen ties within the church and in the community. An Official Club, composed of deacons and wives and deaconesses, with the pastors and wives has created a warm togetherness. Senior Members Day was inaugurated for fellowship of the aged. Joint-Fellowship Services on Thanksgiving with Bethel Church and with Greenmont-Oakpark Church in March have become annual church events. A Scholarship Award is made each year to two worthy, graduating students, sponsored by the Senior Women’s League. The church included a departmentalized church school comprised of 30 classes, a general missionary organization having 10 circles, a young girl’s guild and children’s band. There were also 5 choirs, adult usher board and Health department, young adult and junior usher boards. There were Boards of adult and young mothers and a youth fellowship organization. A wide range of activities reach into the community, even as far as Africa, where one of our members serves as a missionary. Tabernacle is affiliated and cooperates with Metropolitan Churches in Greater Dayton, and in all denominational bodies from the county level up to the National Baptist convention, U.S.A., Inc.
Reverend Donald W. Thompson joined Tabernacle Baptist Church on March 26, 1967. Shortly thereafter, he accepted the call to pastor in Chillicothe, OH. Minister Thompson returned to Tabernacle in July 1970 and accepted the Assistant to the Pastor position on July 27, 1970. Reverend Thompson stepped up to the task of preaching every Sunday, performing marriages and eulogizing the deceased members. From 1970 to 1978, he faithfully served Tabernacle as the assistant to the late Dr. J. Welby Broaddus. With the enthusiastic support of Pastor Broaddus, Minister Thompson also revitalized many existing programs and introduced new ones. He instituted bible study classes and journeyed to the Holy Land with adult and teenage members. Dr. Broaddus felt confident that Tabernacle would move forward in the capable hands of Reverend Donald W. Thompson. “The time has come for Tabernacle to climb to higher pinnacles under the banner of God. Your pastor has tried to lead you, under the Lord’s omnipotent hand during these years. I must relinquish this leadership and retire as Pastor of this congregation. I love thee dear Tabernacle. I love thy structure, thy officers, members, and memories.” With those words the Reverend J. Welby Broaddus became Pastor Emeritus and the Reverend Donald W. Thompson was unanimously elected Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church. Under Dr. Thompson’s leadership, the Church continued to grow in the Lord, membership, physical plant, and acquisition of new properties for future growth and expansion. He had a strong commitment to the Christian Education Program and to the scholarship fund so that members could attend college. In addition to the many classes offered, he instituted a men’s Bible Study called Men Standing for Christ. Following a brief illness, The Reverend Dr. Donald W. Thompson passed away on Friday, August 28, 2009.
The Reverend Ernest E. Graves was installed as pastor of The Tabernacle Baptist Church on January 10, 2010. Within these hallow walls the work of the church moves forward, its mission constant to grow spiritually, to serve this present age, and to spread the Good News that Jesus saves! In 80+ years, the little church has grown from 157 persons, a pastor and 4 deacons to approximately 3,700 members, a total of 6 pastors and 57 deacons.
Under Pastor Graves leadership, he ordained 9 deacons. Pastor Graves was very much interested in the way the world was utilizing technology and wanted Tabernacle to be involved in that transition. In 2012 the media department was formed which all services would be recorded for viewing on monitors positioned throughout the church.
Much of Tabernacle’s success has been due to the fact that the church is incorporated by the State of Ohio and also operates under Church Control, having one general treasury. Many hands, minds and hearts have cooperated and contributed to the progress of our church. However, this church owes a special debt of gratitude to the local ministers and deacons who have given unreservedly of themselves to the work of the ministry, and who shared in the leadership responsibilities, many times during interim periods when the church was without a Pastor.
Reverends *Lewis E. Logan, *Gentry F. Worth and Donald W. Thompson have served as assistants to the pastor.
Associate ministers who are `sons` of Tabernacle:
*A. A. Mayes
*G. P. Perdue
Rev. Lewis James
J. A. Bullard
*C. D. Morrow
R. W. Richmond
* J. O. Kennedy
T. C. Hardy
*Robert L. Smith
Walter B. Hoard
Daniel Bullard III.
Deacons: Four deacons participated in the organization of this church:
*James McKinney, Chairman
*L. C. M. Jones, Clerk *J. W. Parks
Lonnie Greenwood Added during the first year:
*W. D. Jackson
**C. L. Huguely
**F. A. McKissack
During the 18 months between Pastor Graves death and Pastor Adelekan accepting the call, a special gratitude is extended to:
Rev. Melvin Jackson
Rev. John Allen
Rev. Dr. Brenda Thomas, D. Min.
Rev. Herman Dixon
Rev. Gayle Fowler, M. A.
Rev. Dr. Willie Barns-Jackson, D. Min.
Rev. Pamela Barns-Jackson, M. ED.
Rev. Anthony Covington
Tabernacle continues lifting, loving and looking to the head of the church, Jesus Christ; preparing, praying and praising God, our Creator; leaning, depending and serving with the Holy Spirit as our guide.