TELLING THE STORY
A KALEIDOSCOPIC COMMUNITY
The continuous nature of The Tabernacle of Glory congregation represents the legacy of people who sacrificed financially to obtain and maintain three church properties. There is another reality in the life of our congregation. That is, we were unable to be sustain the most recent property in these changing times. As a congregation we had entered a season of change.
We had a mortgage that required monthly payments*. Tithes and offerings from members and rental initiatives could not cover the mortgage, utilities, salaries, and effective ministry. Additionally, there were hardships in meeting the immediate need for extensive building repairs, replacements, improvements, and maintenance. This challenge was not unique to our congregation, many other local congregations have had the same experiences.
Changes within the church’s surrounding community and trends of the twenty-first century where church attendance and membership are low priorities among most individuals. The death and leaving of members contributed to the organizational decline as well.
Our church was presented with a $3.6 million offer to purchase our building and grounds. We had a potential agreement that allowed us to dismiss $1.7 million of debt while giving us the ability to simultaneously relocate and provide effective ministry. It was not easy to make a decision that weighed so heavily emotionally: we were faced with a challenge and an opportunity at the same time.
According to the church’s constitution, our congregation voted to undergo the process of selling our property. Seventy percent (70%) of the membership voted to sell. Ultimately, the emotional connection and history of the Lord’s work in the life of this congregation mattered more than the building and will continue to matter, regardless of location.
(*We acknowledge our lending institution, Pinnacle Financial Partners, because God touched the heart of its leaders to accommodate us for more than 11 years in creative ways that are not typical to banking. This kind of consideration allowed us to be able to stay in our building until we were able to relocate with startup funds.)
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At this time, we are temporarily worshipping at American Baptist College (ABC), a Historic Black College whose mission is “to educate, graduate and prepare diverse students with a liberal arts emphasis for Christian leadership, service and social justice in the world.”
Their mission lines up with our mission. We are a part of their Called to Life of Purpose and Meaning Initiative. This is a cohort of 12 churches incubating, discovering, supporting, investigating, relating and experimenting to be the church within each individual context.
By being at ABC we can use the mixed space of the library. Have access to the students and the students have access to another way of thinking about being leaders for the 21st century.
During this period, we will explore and discover our permanent location. We become an example to other smaller congregations of ways to be missional and adaptive in hard times. As we seek a permanent location, we are looking for space at allows us to house agencies and advocates in one location that will reveal to the culture where we live, work, and play how to make the vertical horizontal.