A Brief History

"…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it."
Matthew 16:18

Moved by the Spirit of the Lord, a group of believers in Christ met at the home of Brother William Anthony and organized the People’s Baptist Church on March 19, 1926.  Over the years, we have been known as Gay Street Baptist Church and Gay Tabernacle Baptist Church. On December 9, 1983, the church adopted the name Tabernacle Baptist Church - “the place where dreams of a friendly church come true”.

Our urban congregation is made up of over 400 co-laborers partnering with God in the building of His kingdom.  Throughout these years this co-labor and partnership has accomplished “Great and Mighty Things.”  We were the first Negro Baptist church in Columbus to broadcast on the radio.  During the Civil Rights years, Gay Street Baptist joined with neighboring White congregations, Broad Street United Methodist Church and First Congregational Church, to offer the first joint integrated Vacation Bible School.  The groundbreaking ceremony for our new church building in June 1969 was monumental.  With its African-American inspired architecture and symbolic contemporary, faceted windows, this co-labor and partnership with God was truly a labor of love.  

Tabernacle supports many traditional ministries, Church School, Missionary, Choirs, Ushers, Nurses and Nurturing Baptist Churches; however, we’ve successfully blended the traditional with more contemporary ministries such as mimes and drama.  Easter 1985 was the inaugural celebration of the Lord’s Supper Pageant – thousands have witnessed this moving drama of the life of Christ now presented at the Historic Southern Theatre. The Samaritan Project Development Corporation has built 18 new construction homes and provided homebuyer education, foreclosure prevention, and credit counseling to more than 3,000 attendees.

Children and youth have always held a special place in the hearts of Tabernacle.  Our Angel Tree Ministry serves children of incarcerated parents.  Our young people enjoy drama, scholarships and sports teams; and our Summer Camp is open to the community.

We have trained and nurtured preachers and church leaders; we are community and political leaders; and we have taken His message of grace, salvation and mercy to countless persons who may not have known His word.

Tabernacle has been blessed by God and the leadership of six pastors:

1926-1934 1934-1939 1939-1957 1957-1963 1964-1973 1974-2011
Reverend I. J. Hall Reverend C. H. Harris Reverend J. P. Fincher Reverend U. G. Campbell Reverend Johnny K. Bryant Reverend Dr. Odell Waller
Reverend I. J.
Reverend C. H.
Reverend J. P.
Reverend U. G.
Reverend Johnny K.
Reverend Dr. Odell

On June 7, 2011, we suffered a great loss when the Lord called Pastor Odell Waller into Eternal Rest.  In August 2011, Rev. Verlin F. Samples, Jr., an Associate Minister at Tabernacle, was appointed as Interim Pastor.  Although a void was left in our church family, we are not like those who have no hope. In May 2013, Rev. Samples was elected to be the seventh pastor of Tabernacle.