1951-1960

 

n January, 1951 Tabernacle joined with several other churches in withdrawing from the Dover Baptist Association to become one of the Charter Member churches of the newly formed Richmond Baptist Association. The Tabernacle Baptist Church Library was established on March 14, 1951. Mrs. Mary Moses managed the Library from its inception. After her death Tabernacle honored her by naming and dedicating the Church Library to her memory.

Rev. Phillip Hart resigned as assistant pastor on June 24, 1951, followed by Rev. Jack Noffsinger’s resignation on August 19, 1951. Rev. Noffsinger accepted the pastorate of First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Florida and minister to Baptist students and faculty of the University of Florida. At the close of Rev. Noffsinger’s pastorate, Tabernacle membership numbered more than 2,700 members.

Dr. Ernest Honts was called as Tabernacle’s sixth pastor. His first sermon was delivered on February 17, 1952, and his formal installation service was held March 23. Upon Dr. Honts’ recommendation, Rev. Wyatt Parker was called as assistant pastor in May, 1952. At this time, Tabernacle was the second largest Baptist church in Virginia.

On December 5, 1954, Dr. Honts appointed a Building Committee to plan for the construction of long-needed additional educational facilities for the Sunday School. On January 2, 1955, Dr. Honts resigned followed by Dr. Parker’s resignation on May 31. Tabernacle’s membership was 2,767 at their departure.

Dr. Raymond Brown agreed to serve as interim pastor beginning June 1, 1955; and on August 14, Dr. Brown accepted the formal call by Tabernacle members to become their pastor.

In September, 1955 approval was given for immediate construction of a three-story educational building to be located at the rear of the two existing buildings at 1913 and 1915 Grove Avenue. This project had been under consideration for several months by the Building Committee appointed by Dr. Honts.

A special recognition service was held July 1, 1956 when Tabernacle’s church sexton of more than 42 years was honored in a unique ceremony at the morning worship service. Mr. William Mealey’s photograph was featured on the cover of the church bulletin, and Dr. Brown singled out Mr. Mealey as one of the Lord’s doorkeepers who had faithfully served Tabernacle in so many honorable ways. He was 82 years old at his retirement.

The new three-story education building was completed and ready for an Open House held on November 25, 1956. Dr. Brown suggested and the congregation endorsed that the new building be named The Aubrey and Claire Williams Youth Building. Immediately following the Open House and Dedication of the new building, a reception was held in the Social Hall in honor of the teachers and officers of the Bible School who had served for 25 years or more.

On March 20, 1960, Dr. Brown resigned to become Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tabernacle then experienced a transitional period beginning in the 60′s from a church in a suburban community to a church in an urban, inner city location.