Tabernacle Baptist Church, 1914, Augusta

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Tabernacle Baptist Church is one of the most beautiful and unique religious facilities in all of Augusta. Situated on the city’s historic “Black Main Street”, Laney-Walker Boulevard, it is an imposing presence in the community. It grew out of the divided congregation of Central African Baptist Church and was first known as Beulah, but, at the request of founding pastor Reverend Charles Thomas Walker (5 February 1858-29 July 1921) changed its name to Tabernacle just two days later. Its membership grew from an initial 300 to over 2000 by 1889. Its original location was Ellis Street; the present structure dates to 1914.

The church prospered during the pastorate of Reverend Walker and garnered international attention and support from men as diverse as President William Howard Taft [a frequent visitor to Augusta], John D. Rockefeller, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver, who all attended services at Tabernacle. Reverend Walker, who was born into slavery at Hephzibah, was the first African-American theologian to visit the Holy Land, was appointed by President McKinley as the U. S. Volunteers Chaplain with the U. S. 9th Immune Infantry during the Spanish-American War, with the rank of Captain, and during a residency at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in New York, established the first African-American YMCA in Harlem. He also established the Walker Baptist Institute and served in numerous leadership roles within the Baptist faith.

During the pastorate of Reverend Charles Spencer Hamilton, Tabernacle became a center for the Civil Rights Movement in Augusta. In April 1962, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached here. The church remains prominent in Augusta’s religious and cultural life.

Laney-Walker North Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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