Tabernacle Baptist was started out of deep convictions about the Word of God and it's authority. All of the founding members have gone to be with the Lord. We trust this brief outline of the history of our church will be a blessing to you.
In October 1928, Dr. McCann, felt led of the Lord to start a Fundamental, Independent Baptist Church in Roswell. About forty people joined him and met in the old armory building. In 1930, the nucleus that was to become Tabernacle Baptist Church began meeting in the home of Mrs. King, located in the 400 block of East Fifth Street. This group met briefly in the basement of the Chaves County Courthouse. Dr. McCann resigned and Rev. R.A. Dorsey from Texas became pastor. In 1932 Rev. Jensen became pastor and organized Tabernacle Baptist Church. Their first order of business was to call Brother Jensen as Pastor. While this cannot be definitively ascertained, this young church had approximately twelve charter members.
Brother Jensen, who was unmarried, remained the Pastor until 1935. Brother Cobb then became the Pastor for about two years.
Upon Brother Cobb's departure, Brother Nelson became the pastor until 1940. Brother Nelson suffered the debilitating effects of diabetes, eventually losing both legs. He did not allow his disability to keep him from loving people, or being active in helping to grow the church.
Brother Porter McDougal, described affectionately by one member as a “West Texas cotton farmer”, came to Tabernacle directly from seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Brother McDougal, having graduated in 1939, had no intention of becoming a Pastor right away. He planned to teach at a seminary. But God had other plans and Tabernacle called Brother McDougal as Pastor shortly thereafter. During his 9 years, Tabernacle finished paying for the floor in the Church and then ordered pews. Everyone told Brother McDougal that it was impossible to build so soon after the war because of the shortages prevalent at that time in building materials. Believing that all things are possible in the Lord, Brother “Mc” went forward, receiving a lot of help from the members, along with financial help from both the members and from others in the community. The new auditorium was built in 1947, despite shortages that existed as a result of World War II, the membership and Brother McDougal praised the Lord and gave God the glory for this accomplishment. Brother and sister “Mc” moved their membership back to Tabernacle in 1983 and remained part of Tabernacle until God called them Home.
Many young men from the air base would come to Tabernacle, and Mrs. McDougal saw to it that each of the young men was invited home for Sunday dinner, usually to her home where the noon meal was often beans and cornbread, with a lot of love and laughter for dessert. At least seven young men surrendered to preach while Brother McDougal was Pastor, most of who are still in the ministry today.
On June 7, 1950, Tabernacle Baptist Church voted to call Brother Howard Ingram, described by our same “one member” as “an ex-bartender from Oklahoma”, to be its Pastor. Brother Ingram and his wife and their two sons, Bobby Jo and Dean, came to Roswell and “hit the ground running”. The Church experienced great growth in numbers under Brother Ingram, having a high attendance of 1054.
During his pastorate, the present sanctuary was completed in 1955. Many members were added to the Church, and God called an exceptionally large number of young boys into the ministry during this time – names well known today in Baptist Bible Fellowship Churches throughout the United States and the foreign Mission Field. On May 24, 1959, after the Sunday morning service, Brother Ingram announced that he would be leaving effective July 1, 1959.
“A major era at Tabernacle has come to an end” was the sentiment expressed by many. However, as Brother Ingram told us when he resigned – “we’ve just begun, the best is yet to come.”
On June 24, 1959, the Church issued a call to Brother Clyde Spain, a Pastor from Dumas, Texas. Brother and Mrs. Spain, and their three boys – Glenn, Ed, and Curtis – moved into the parsonage on North Richardson. The property had been purchased for use as a parsonage, Brother Ingram having provided his own housing. The Sunday School Building, adjoining the sanctuary to the east, was built during Brother Spain’s ministry, being completed in 1963. Brother Spain was very interested in our youth (“they are our future”), and is well remembered for his stamina in “keeping up” with our youth department. Brother Spain submitted his resignation, effective February 5, 1965, and left to become Pastor of Bruton Road Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.
On June 23, 1965, the Church voted to call Brother Alvin Lay – “an Air Force Tech Sgt. From Oklahoma” – a graduate of Baptist Bible College, Springfield, Missouri, Class of 1956, as Pastor. Brother and Mrs. Lay and their two boys – David and George – moved into the parsonage on North Richardson. Brother Lay was an excellent teacher, who enjoyed pastoring the flock. He and his wife, Irene – who was very shy – formed close attachments with several of our members. Under Brother Lay’s ministry, our Church became famous as sure-fire winners in BIBLE Baseball, bringing home the trophy time-after-time. Brother Lay and the Church issued a letter of authority to Brother Onsy Whicker, to go to Korea as a missionary and preach, thereby laying claim to him as one of our own. ( Onsy Whicker would later become the pastor of Tabernacle Baptist for 25 years) Brother Lay resigned on June 23, 1970, to take a church in San Angelo, Texas.
Brother John Askins was issued a call on August 23, 1970. He and his wife, Syble, and their two sons moved to Roswell. Brother Askins was, “a peach grower from Arkansas” and a graduate of Baptist Bible College, Springfield, Missouri, who was instrumental in the Church’s purchase of several properties for the church. Brother Chester Henry was also ordained, on July 26, 1974, under Brother Askins’ ministry. Brother Askins resigned on February 28, 1979, moving back to Arkansas.
The Church voted to call, again, Brother Howard Ingram on July 22, 1979, as Pastor. He and Mrs. Ingram returned and once again “hit the ground running.” Like a lot of us, he was running a little slower, but still faster than many who were younger. During this second pastorate, Brother Ingram made major changes in the sanctuary, ordering the coveted “padded pews”, adding paneling, etc. He “lucked out” when the wallpaper was not properly installed on the North wall around the baptistery, resulting in the effect we presently have, which shows the painting, commissioned by him in his first tenure, so very well. He also consummated the sale of the original Church site, on the alley, to Donald Anderson. Brother Ingram submitted his resignation in September 1980, after first calling Brother Onsy Whicker up in the state of Washington and asking him “Why don’t you come home and take over?”
Tabernacle Baptist Church voted, by an overwhelming majority, to call Brother Onsy Whicker as Pastor on October 12, 1980. Brother Whicker was a graduate of Bible Baptist College, Springfield, Missouri, and Class of ’57. Brother Onsy, his wife, Betty, sons, Steve (with wife Jolene and son, Jeremy and daughter, Starla), Randy (with wife Brenda), and Kenny arrived with their U-Haul trucks and immediately began what can only be called a ministry of love. This “missionary from Korea” had long held a very special place in the heart of Tabernacle (even though he was a “hillbilly from Kentucky” who came to us via Michigan).
While at Tabernacle, Brother Whicker acquired numerous pieces of property and the church remained debt free. Through generous donations, he is directly responsible for the addition of the Church steeple, and the six-office complex immediately in front of the Sunday School Building. The Gymnasium/Fellowship Complex was also instigated and completed under Brother Whicker’s leadership, with a lot of work being done by the members.
In 2005 Brother Whicker retired from the pastorate, becoming Pastor Emeritus where he and his wife Betty still serve. In his place Brother Geary Miller was called to pastor bringing with him his wife, Debbie. In 2006, they officially began their ministry here at Tabernacle, leading the congregation to reach out into their community and bring the lost ones to Jesus. Under Brother Miller’s leadership, Tabernacle’s bus ministry grew, the youth building was remodeled, the parking lot was repaved, and many young children came to know the Lord as their Savior. Brother Miller served faithfully until 2010 at which time he resigned and entered into full-time evangelism. He could be defined as a “soul-winning preacher.”
After Brother Miller’s resignation, Brother Onsy Whicker was asked to preach and be an administrator for the church while the pulpit committee searched for a full-time pastor.
The blessing that TBC has been able to accomplish through the years is the many preachers and full time workers that this church has produced. Many large churches have been started out of this ministry as well as mission works all over the world. Here is a short list:
Tabernacle’s “Preacher Boys”
Walter Andrews, Mike Askins, Steve Askins, Jerry Byars, Chester Bunch, Jose Chaves, Carl Cokely, Harold Council, Dick Cunningham, Clifton Curry, Tommy Dunniho, Luther Estes, Dennis Ford, A.W. Gay, Art George, Scott Gurle, Floyd Goodloe, Dick Gosnell, Garland Hamilton, Tim Hargrove, Rodney Haskins, Kenneth Heck, Chester Henry, Jack Henry, Ed Hughlett, J.C. Joiner, Frank Landers, Gordon Lincon, Waddell Maple, Gary McCreary, Jerry McCreary, Pete Merlo, John Morgan, Norbert Morris, Bruce Nelson, Joe Penrod, Duane Pettipiece, Jim Roy, Joe Sisneros, Bill Stroud, James. D. Taylor, Ron Todd, Cecil F. Wagner, Steve Whicker, Stan White, Bill Whitehead, Charles Yates
There may be others, forgotten by us, but remembered by God. We would like to express our thanks to Rev. Doyle Morris for his research in finding out who the founding pastor was and the time and beginning of Tabernacle Baptist Church.