Baptist Tabernacle Church of LaGrange
Shining God's Light Through Our Community To The Whole World

THE HISTORY OF BAPTIST TABERNACLE




In the summer of 1944, a small group of men and women met at the home of Mr. L.F. Buchanan. Their objective was to organize a church that was badly needed in their community. Since not many families owned cars in those days and they needed a church that was accessible by walking. This small group represented people from Brownwood, Houston, Troup, Grady, and Monroe streets.

This group held their meetings in the garage behind Mr. Buchanan's house at the intersection of Grady and Monroe streets. The garage had originally housed chickens, and they laughingly called it their "chicken-coop church."

Preacher Cecil Cobb, who lived nearby, came to minister to this group. As they grew in numbers, they began to look for a permanent meeting place. 

They found a small, white frame house on the west side of Jenkins Street that was possibly for sale.

After conferring with Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Yates, the property was purchased in February of 1945 for $1,100. The house had originally been a large woodshed that had been remodeled into a four room house and rented out.

Mrs. Yates recalled that the congregation paid for the church by their offerings each Sunday, ranging from $1.25 to $2.00 each until the debt was paid. Deacons signing the deed were Horace Stewart, L. F. Buchanan, and Willie Segrest.

Preacher Cobb, members, friends, (young and old), removed the partitions and made one large room with two windows on each side. The pulpit was placed in the middle, at the west end, with an upright piano on the right and Deacon's benches on the left. There were two rows of benches (homemade), with a pot-bellied stove in the middle aisle. Outside in the back of the church yard was a well and an outhouse. At that time the streets weren't paved and the people walked down the hill, in the red dirt, to the little white church.

In those days, the church was the meeting place where neighbors came, had church services and visited every Sunday. On the hot summer nights the windows were raised to let the cool breeze in and so the people who sat on their porches, could hear the robust hymns and the shouts of praise as they floated up the hill to Brownwood, Troup, and Grady Streets. It was a beautiful sound.

The church grew and members were added. Ferrell Stephens, a long time member from 1946, recalls that 15 young people were saved at one time. They were included in a large group that was baptized at a pond just off Greenville Road.

Preacher Cobb served as Pastor from 1945-49. In 1949 Rev. Nathan Carnes was called to pastor the church, and in 1950, the church began to plan for a larger church building.

In early 1951, permission was obtained from the city to canvass the neighborhood for funds to build. In August of 1951, they extended their land by buying a plot from Mrs. Rutland for $250, on the north side of their present land. The deacons' names on this deed were Odell Harper, Otis Hendrix and Horace Stewart.

A parsonage that had been purchased but was no longer needed, was sold and the money put into the building fund. The Callaway Foundation graciously gave $750 to the fund. The people pledged concrete blocks and other materials for construction of the new building. Some recall their parents hauling blocks and other materials in their cars to the building site. It was a slow and sacrificial work. When the walls were up and the windows, there was a sawdust floor, used pews purchased from Oakside church, a homemade pulpit, the same old upright piano, with a well and an outhouse in the back, but they were happy.

As time went by the church was faced with brick, wood flooring, a Sunday School room and a restroom was added. The gas heater was replaced with central heat/air, carpet laid, and new pews and new pulpit added.

More improvements were made as time went on; a paved parking lot, a school bus was purchased and later exchanged for two vans, more land purchased, a fellowship hall added, and Sunday School rooms and restrooms were added.

Today, the church sits at its latest location on South Davis Road with a new family life center named after our late pastor of 34 years, Rev. J.C. McMillian, Sr.

We invite you to become a part of the church today and a piece of its history tomorrow.
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