Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tabernacle Church Centennial, Florence, South Carolina

My great-great-grandparents, Levi R. and Sarah Jane (BURRIS) TAYLOR, with his brother William E TAYLOR, were charter members of this church.

Florence Morning News, Florence, South Carolina, 12 Oct 1957, pg. 2, column 3, transcribed by Teresa McVeigh, 20 Sep 2010
Log House to Brick Sanctuary: Church near Evergreen To Celebrate Centennial

by Bev Ballard, Morning News Church Editor

Evergreen, Oct. 11--

A mere dozen years separates the organization dates of nearby Tabernacle Methodist Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South--out of which grew the present denomination in this section.

Tabernacle Church will celebrate its hundreth anniversary Oct. 26 with a special all-day observance. Former members, ex-pastors, and friends of the church will gather to commemorate the centennial anniversary.

The first congregation of Tabernacle Church met in a log meeting house about 4 miles north-east of Evergreen, and it is said that Bishop Francis Asbury preached there. Later, according to history written by James Leach, Mae Leach, and Mary Leach covering up until 1944, the church organization met at the McKnight place near here.
The present site is one acre of ground deeded by James McNeill in 1857. He was great-grandparent and great-grand uncle of some of the present members and was a charter member of the organization. The records memtion other charter members, men, James Elmore Allen and Thomas Hunter, William E Taylor, Julius L Leach, J B King, L R Taylor, Absalam Head and James L Davis (who died while serving the U S Army), A W Head and J H Johnson. Women charter members were listed, Rebecca Hunter, Elizabeth Sweet, Charlotte Adams, Martha A Brown, Mary Elmore, Amanda C. Davis, Elizabeth DeWitt, Sarah J Taylor, Flora E Head, Betty L Davis, Elizabeth Carter, Elizabeth Turner, Mary A King, Adeline Hunter, and Rebecca T Hyman. There were also 56 colored members at that time.

It is interesting to note that the church of that day would expel members for dancing and drinking and "for the use of profane language." In 1861, A M Chretzburg was the presiding elder, J B Campbell preacher in charge, and O. Eaddy Junior preacher.

It was twelve years prior to the initial formation of Tabernacle church on the present site in 1857, that the overall Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized. In 1847, on May 17, a resolution was adopted by which the annual conferences in the slave-holding states were constituted a separate ecclesiastical connection under the "Plan of Separation" and thus the M E Church was organized, according to a historical account in "The Methodist Primer."

D W Seals, a tea-drinking Englishman, was preacher in charge in 1868 and several tales are told how he would carry his little box of tea around while visiting his members. On one occasion, history records, "Brother " Seals called at a member's home and asked her to draw him tea. Very little was known of tea through this section in that day. After boiling the tea for a long time, she apologized for not being able to cook it tender.

In those days, the membership paid its pastors and preachers with farm products, such as corn, molasses, meal, rice, bacon, and flour, it is noted.

"From 1857 to 1881," history records, "the church was unceiled and was lit by candles from candle posts. The pulpit, four feet high, was of fine architecture and located at the back of the church near the road. There was no porch.

"A C Walker, a preacher of little statue, in order to be seen by his congregation found it necessary to stand on a block of wood." In this connection on one occasion, he escaped embarassment when his suspenders broke because the huge pulpit roster hid most of him from his congregation. He finished the message, so the story goes.

The church was remodelled in 1881. It was ceiled and a porch was added. The pulpit was changed to the opposite end. Work was done by memebers, who also furnished the timber. The trees were sawed by a local sawmill.

In 1930 Sunday School rooms were added. C C Parker donated the lumber. Church members again did most of the work. The church was repainted in 1933.

The list of former pastors is a long one. The average length of a pastor's stay on the circuit, which included Tabenacle Church was two years. The circuit name changed many times. It was the Lynches Creek circuit in 1873 which included Trinity, Pleasant Hill, Bethlehem, and Prospect church in additon to Tabernacle. In 1878 it became West Marion circuit. Then three years later the name was changed to "Effingham Circuit." Later it was included with the Liberty Circuit to the Claussen Circuit.

During the course of these changes, many humorus incidents are recorded in the history. It was in1880 that it was said a protracted meeting was held in the church an some of the members fell on the floor in a kind of trance after considerable shouting. The pastor, T P Phillips, history noted, did not approve of this. And resulting, the church had some internal trouble.

From Claussen to Liberty circuit was the next and last name change. The church, along with Liberty Methodist Church, form a circuit now.

In 1944 the church building fund was started by George W Leach, since departed. A tract of land was bequeated by the late Florence Turner. This tract was some distance removed from the present location. In 1947 the land was sold for $4000, which was added to the building fund. In the fall of 1950 the old church building was moved back from the public road and work was begun. This work was completed in 1951. Cost of the present building, including gas heat, was $17.500. Actual value of the property is estimated at more than double that amount. A new electric organ and new pews were installed in 1955. Plus, a church kitchen was added. Classrooms were repainted in 1956 and this year bathrooms were added.

Although the record does not give an accurate account of the number attending Tabernacle Church during its early years, nor the full membership, the church has shown growth in numbers. Present membership is 149, with an average attendance of 80. The Reverend J W Evans is present pastor.

Lake City Methodist District superintendent, Rev. J F Trammell will preach the Centennial Sermon. He also preached at the building dedication service. Future plans include the addition of carpet for the santuary, classrooms and a recreational building.
Photograph captions:

1. The Rev. W. J. Evans...currently serving as pastor

2. The old Tabernacle Church looked like this....built in 1857, remodelled in 1881; rooms added in 1930

3. New Tabernacle Methodist Church: stemmed from 100-year-old congregation

All Rights Reserved
Teresa McVeigh 2010

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