1971-1980

 

In early 1971 Tabernacle approved the proposal to sell the parsonage at 4106 W. Franklin and agreed to provide the pastor with an annual housing allowance. Dr. and Mrs. Clifford relocated in Henrico County.

In January, 1972 Tabernacle’s first minister of music, James Davenport, resigned to take a similar position in a church in Maryland. This was a significant loss to the church’s music program.

In spite of Tabernacle’s transportation ministry with the purchase of two vans, formalized visitation programs, frequent evangelistic speakers and special music programs, attendance continued to decrease and membership diminished annually. From 1965 to 1974, a total of 308 members passed away; 468 members were added; but 425 members moved their memberships to other churches.

In 1972 a long-range study committee, headed by Power Hackett, was formed to recommend changes, which could possibly work to the benefit of Tabernacle. Two years later, the results of that study were brought to the church body for consideration. At the close of worship on the morning of March 17, 1974, a total of 394 members participated in the vote from the following three proposals:

1. To move the church to a new location;
2. To remain at the present location but develop a mission outreach post in a suitable suburban location;
3. To remain at the present location, with intensification of programs toward winning for Christ the unchurched of the Fan district and the larger inner city.

When the votes were tallied, 228 members (58% of those voting) expressed their desire to remain in its present location and attempt to draw others from the Fan district and the larger inner city.

In December 1974 Tabernacle hosted a history-making appointment service by the Foreign Mission Board with the appointment of 23 new missionaries. Also that December the largest Lottie Moon offering in the history of the Tabernacle WMU was given, totaling just under $7,000.

On January 25, 1975, Rev. Maurice McCarthy, Jr., joined Tabernacle’s staff as associate pastor. His ministry brought youth, enthusiasm and new life into many phases of the church activities.

After serving Tabernacle for 15 years, Dr. J. Roy Clifford resigned effective July 31, 1976. Dr. Herbert R. Carlton, formerly with the Virginia Baptist Board and a past minister of a number of Baptist churches, was selected as Tabernacle’s interim pastor.

Dr. William P. Warnock accepted the New Pastor Committee’s invitation to serve as Tabernacle’s ninth pastor, effective February 1, 1977. Dr. Warnock involved the deacons actively and individually in the Sunday worship services and revived the Deacons’ Family Ministry Plan and the tape ministry for shut-in members. He was a strong believer in Tabernacle’s becoming involved in community action, such as programs sponsored by Alcoholics Anonymous or Mother and Baby clinics. He brought before the Board of Deacons requests from a couple of area organizations to use Tabernacle classrooms for their meetings on certain weekdays. The requests were granted and formed the basis from which other area organizations began to request like privileges at Tabernacle.

At the end of March 1978, “Butch” McCarthy resigned to become pastor of the Goochland Baptist Church; and Rev. L. Robert Fleming was called as associate pastor of Tabernacle in July. Mr. Ray Bordon replaced Mrs. Dwight Honeycutt as Church Organist-Director; and Miss Claudia Collier became the Minister of Youth.

With a background in home missions, Dr. Warnock stressed service to senior citizens and the needy. It was during his time at Tabernacle that the Clothes Closet was initiated; the Ready Club for senior citizens was organized; and adult education classes offered by the Richmond Public Schools were first held at the church.

Church membership and financial support had been slowly declining for several years, but the church continued an effective ministry to the needy in the community.

Dr. William P. Warnock resigned to become pastor of First Baptist Church of Hazlehurst, Georgia, effective October 28, 1979.

During this period between pastors, Rev. Bob Fleming led the congregation of Tabernacle until Dr. Edward Pruden agreed to serve Tabernacle as interim pastor, beginning March 17, 1980, until the church called a new pastor. Dr. Pruden had been pastor for more than 32 years of the First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C.

On March 16, 1980, the church body approved the employment of two new staff members – Mrs. Judy Fiske, Church Organist and Music Coordinator, and Mrs. Norma Nelson, Adult Choir Director.

In the fall of 1980, Rev. Bob Fleming resigned to become pastor of the Salem Baptist Church in Crozier, Virginia.

During this unsettled period within the church, “Mothers’ Time Out” continued; the Clothes Closet was regularly maintained and operated; quarterly Pantry Showers provided food to the needy; and support and assistance was regularly provided to the sick and bereaved. More than $8,000 was given by the WMU to the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings in 1980. On December 7 Tabernacle Baptist Church was included in the Christmas Tour of the Fan. This was the first time the church was included in such a community program.