Ground broken for new Tabernacle church

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 12, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Dozens of Tabernacle Christian Church members gathered at 2500 East Washington Street on Saturday afternoon to witness the groundbreaking of their new church. Unfortunately, some uninvited guests showed up as well – the dark clouds that slowly advanced upon the event, threatening to taint it with rain.

Nevertheless, Deacon Iness Taylor welcomed the crowd, and the choir stood and intoned the appropriate, &uot;The Church’s One Foundation.&uot; Revs. Carlton Everett and Thelma Norfleet read from the Bible, and the crowd was right along with them, ignoring the cold sprinkles that had started to fall.

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As Deacon Lorene Powell went over the 87-year history of the church, however, it started to get worse. Rain fell harder on the crowd, and several umbrellas popped up on the stage and in the audience. Rev. Curtis Edmonds held one over Powell’s head as she talked.

&uot;Tabernacle Christian Church blossomed from a Sunday School in the home of Mr. Pumpy Hill in North Jericho,&uot; Powell said. &uot;It was named Chapel Christian Church in 1917. The original church was completed in 1923 and named Tabernacle Christian Church. The church was then enlarged in 1928.

&uot;On Feb. 20, 1961, the church was destroyed by fire. The first service in the new church was in July 1962.&uot; Powell talked about the church’s first five ministers, ending with current pastor Carlton Upton.

&uot;Our sixth pastor accepted his call to preach at Tabernacle in September 1990. He is continuing to give spiritual guidance, leadership, and promoting the work of the Lord. We as a church family look to the Lord as our sustainer and guide. We pray for the salvation of every lost soul and the spiritual grow of all the saints of God.&uot;

As Powell wound down, so did the rain. Many of the umbrellas closed, and several people removed their hoods and hats.

&uot;The new Tabernacle Christian church will replace the existing one in building only,&uot; said Richard Blount, whose current place of worship stands at 1401 E. Washington. &uot;The holy spirit will continue to exist in the new edifice even the more.&uot; The new establishment, estimated to open in spring 2006, will be 42,000 square feet, enough to hold a sanctuary of 1,200. There will be a gallery, 10 classrooms, 11 offices, meeting rooms, conference rooms, galleries, a kitchen and a recreational area.

&uot;This is an occasion that we are looking forward to,&uot; said building committee chairman Parris Carson. The building’s architect was Daughtery and Associates of Norfolk, and the contractor was J. Hoy Inc. General Contractors, also of Norfolk. &uot;We are just ecstatic that it has come to fruition. God will work it out.&uot; By now, the rain had stopped, and a ray of sunlight poked through the clouds, shining down near the stage.

Upton gave the groundbreaking prayer, and he and several other members came down off the stage to pick up shovels and literally break through the soil and the crowd cheered. The sun came all the way out, warming the entire audience.

&uot;Mission accomplished!&uot; said Taylor, a member for 46 years and deacon for 17. &uot;We have worked so long and so hard to reach this end. After all the work, the labor,

the frustrations, the job is finally done. When we move in, it’s going to be a shouting good time!&uot;

As the parishioners made their way back up E. Washington for refreshments at their &uot;old&uot; church, the clouds broke. Darkness blocked out the sun, and rain doused downtown Suffolk. But for those few moments, sunlight had beamed down upon TCC’s new place.

Looks like Someone might have been watching.