Church History

The Church

 With a Plan for Today

FOREWORD: TABERNACLE BAPTIST CHURCH, “The Church With A Plan For Today And A Vision For Tomorrow:” “Trusting An Unknown Future To An All Knowing God;” “We Hoist No Flag To Catch The Passing Breeze - We Fly No Double Flag;” all are declarations of pride, trust, commitment and faith eloquently used by Tabernacle Baptist Church throughout the past one hundred years. God has granted us the privilege to be part of this institution and to present this historical sketch of our beloved church.

Herewith is the history of Tabernacle from 1896 to 1938 as presented and written by Mrs. Harriett P. Jacobson in December of 1937. Remember as you read Tabernacle’s history the seed to the tree of life was planted during the territorial days.

“The Tabernacle Baptist Church of Oklahoma City was organized in October 1896 by the Rev. J. W. Dungee, Territorial missionary, sent to Oklahoma by the Baptist Home Missionary Society of New York. He was assisted by the Rev. J. L. Dyke (white), pastor of the First Baptist CHurch of Oklahoma City, and the Rev. Holt, Territorial Missionary.

As the church could afford no regular pastor, Rev. Dungee with visiting ministers, among whom were Revs. Van Lew and Simmons of Kansas filled the pulpit for several months.

The original roll of members who were in the organization and who remained with the church were:

Brothers F.G. Houston, Hal Hutson, Allen Watkins, William Cage, Rev. J. W. Dungee; Sisters Katie Houston, Lydia Dungee, Drucilla Dungee-Houston, Ella Dungee Williams, Blanche Dungee, Ellen Wadkins, Margaret Cage.

During this time, a Sunday School whose enrollment was 50 and a Young People’s Reading Circle were organized. These auxiliaries were under the leadership of Prof. J.D. Randolph, principal of the city schools, and Miss. Drusilla Dungee, also a city teacher.”

The first pastor installed was the Rev. R. A. McGuinn of New Jersey who served about 5 months. Additions to the church 9; by baptism, 3.

The second pastor was Rev. Trower who held the church for a short time giving alternate Sundays with the church at El Reno.

The fourth pastor was Rev. P. P. Barbee of Deep Fork who gave alternate sundays to Tabernacle and Deep Fork. He served a few months. Addition to church, 2 by baptism.

The fifth pastor was the Rev. L.W. Osborne. He cast his lot with Tabernacle at this time, and gave his services as a leader freely and encouraged the members by helping in every way he could to improve their condition. The church services were at this time being held in the homes of members.

During this administration, the following additions to the original members of the church organization were: J.D. Randolph and family, William Douglass and family, Edmond Douglass and family, Mrs. Lucy H. Caruthers.

The first church property bought by Tabernacle were two lots in the 200 block on East First Street. In a few months a small frame building was erected in which services were held.

The sixth pastor, Rev. Bacote was installed in 1901. New life was infused into the church under his pastorate. The membership greatly increased. He served faithfully until his resignation. The seventh pastor was the reverend J.R. Bennet of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Rev. Bennet first came to Oklahoma City in 1902 as a guest of the Hotel Waiters’ Club to preach their annual sermon.

While in the city he was invited by the members of Tabernacle to preach for them. So favorable an impression was made by his dignified, Christian manner, and his pulpit eloquence, that he was invited to conduct a revival which was the greatest ever held in Tabernacle up to that time. A second revival (1903) resulted in his being called to the pastorate. It was through his efforts that the lots on East First Street were exchanged for the lots in the 300 block on East Second Street, and plans were made for building a brick church. The cornerstone was laid

Sunday, June 12, 1903. The membership in Tabernacle increased from 47 to 143 when Rev. Bennet resigned to go to a new field of labor in 1906.

Eighth pastor, Rev. W. H. Jernigan was the first pastor chosen by the church, He was a progressive and efficient leader, a man of fine Christian character and broadness of mind. As an outstanding member of the National Baptist Convention, Rev. Jernigan saw that Tabernacle was given honorable recognition as one of the leading churches in the country.

Rev. Jernigan was deeply interested in missions, and also had great influence with the young people of the church. He was always busy making plans to develop their work and help give them the greatest amount of efficient service.

In 1912, Rev. Jernigan resigned to accept his present pastorate in Washington D.C.

The entire city as well as the church regretted losing him both as a pastor and citizen.

The ninth pastor was Rev. A.C Capers who served faithfully for two years and then resigned to accept other work.

We Hoist No Sail

 To Catch The Passing Breeze

The history of Tabernacle Baptist Church would be incomplete without special mention being given to Deacon F. G. Houston and his wife, Sister Katie Houston.

The name of Tabernacle would have no doubt been long erased from the roll of the churches, had it not been for the faith, hope, and encouragement given to the church by them during the darkest days of its existence.

There were criticisms from enemies and most of the church members became indifferent and only a few were left to keep things going. The members were then meeting in the homes of the faithful few.

During this dark time, Brother and sister Houston pleaded with and encouraged members to come together and make another start. Had it not been for their faith in God, their hope in mankind, and their love for their fellowman, Tabernacle might now be only a memory.

In 1915 Rev. Ezel Willie Perry Sr. came to Tabernacle as its leader. He had come as “guest speaker” twice before and the congregation was so favorably impressed with his unassuming bearing, his sincere Christian character, and his earnestness in presenting his messages, that he was chosen unanimously, by the church over four other aspirants, to become Tabernacle’s pastor.When he took charge, the church then had a membership of 400. The membership grew to 1200 by 1937, Under Rev. Perry’s leadership the church made wonderful progress spiritually, financially, and in the increased enrollment of devoted and loyal members.

At the beginning of his pastorate, the church debt was about $2500. He was determined to pay off every dollar of this indebtedness. This was accomplished and the mortgage was burned in 1917. At this time the congregation was worshiping in the church building located on East Second Street. THis Block had then become a business block and that, with the increasing church attendance made the pastor and members feel the need of a larger church building.

A Church

With a Heart

A new building was then sought. As a result, the beautiful site on the corner of NE Third and Byers Street was purchased. Construction of a “Greater Tabernacle” was started. On the first Sunday in June, 1919 the basement of the new church was completed and services held therein. The old church had been sold and the great objective now was to complete the main auditorium.

Services were held there on the first Sunday in September 1922. Every Department of the church took

On new life with the completion of the auditorium. From that time on the pastor and members made strenuous efforts to cancel the church debt greater than $125,000 for the church building and parsonage. On Christmas day 1937 the last mortgage was burned by a grateful membership and the church continued to grow! A devastating fire destroyed the church building and most of its membership records on December 8, 1950. The testimony of God’s faithfulness to His people is best summed up in the words of Rev. E. W. Perry, from A PROPHET IN EBONY, p. 25: “One year and nine months after the fire we entered to worship in a new sanctuary, the most unique and imposing among many of the whole land. This was accomplished at a cost of more than $250,000 for the buildings. We did this because ‘ the people had a mind to work’ and they stood every man in his place round about the camp.”

In March 1959, the membership again celebrated with the burning of the third mortgage for this God - directed force, Tabernacle! …. And the church continued to grow!

During the pastorate of the Rev. E. W. Perry, National prominence again was brought to Tabernacle when he served as president of the Oklahoma Baptist State Convention and as Vice-President of the National Baptist Convention. Among local and state Baptists, Tabernacle and its leaders became prominent in many aspects of the religious community.

A Church Mission was established in the newly developed Edwards Addition known as Tabitha Mission. It later became an established church congregation that today thrives as the Tabitha Baptist Church. Home Mission and Foreign Mission were emphasized. Street ministry was a facet of the church programs. Church Auxiliaries were stimulated with increased membership as well as increased participation in community activities. The church buildings became the site of various educational, civil rights and political gatherings. The spiritual Leadership for more than half a century

A Purpose

And A Message

by the late Rev. E. W. Perry, is not likely to have its tenurial equivalence duplicated. In 1954, when his health began to fail, Rev. E. W. Perry recommended to Tabernacle that his son, Rev. E. Jennings Perry, be called to assist in pastoral leadership of the still growing and vibrant congregation.

After his retirement as pastor, he continued as Pastor Emeritus until his death in August, 1969. In 1969, soon after the death of Rev. E. W. Perry, our co-pastor, Rev. Earl Jennings Perry Sr. was named the eleventh pastor of Tabernacle Baptist church. We remained benefactors of God’s blessings as members were added, existing and new organizations thrived and we continued to grow…. “As one body in Christ”. Tabernacle’s influence was felt locally, nationally and abroad as Rev. Earl Perry, an instructor since 1948, continued to teach in the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education. He served as president of the Oklahoma Baptist State Convention and traveled to New Guinea where a series of messages were delivered, through an interpreter, to colleges under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention.


An Unchanging God

In the early 1970’s, Tabernacle was informed by the Oklahoma Highway Department of plans to construct a North-South inner-city-highway ( The Lincoln-Byers Artery), the Centennial Expressway, that would necessitate relocation of the church. With Divine Guidance, organizational skills, and a willingness to be led, the membership went about the task of finding the best site for our beloved Tabernacle. A building fund program was established and feasibility studies were made, all done to be ready when in fact we would need to vacate our church and property at Third and

In A Changing World

Byers. In 1976, ground was broken and dedicated at NE40th and Prospect. However, a decision was made by the church membership not to move forward with the construction at this site. This property was subsequently sold.. In 1979, because of failing health, Rev. Earl Perry retired from active ministry. Tabernacle was debt-free with a building fund in excess of four hundred thousand dollars and an ever increasing, vibrant and active membership whose faith and trust in God continued to grow.

In May 1980, after several months of lay leadership, the church called the Rev. Clarence E. Davis to become the 12th pastor of Tabernacle. Under the leadership of Rev. Davis, the church forged ahead with a vibrant outreach program of evangelism, street ministry, tape ministry and an extended church education program. Under the guidance of Rev. Davis, and the deacon and trustee boards, the church membership purchased property on NE 36th and Martin Luther King Boulevard. A new church was constructed and a unique and reverent march from NE 3rd and Byers to the new site was made in January of 1984. Differences of opinion regarding theological beliefs and doctrinal practices had arisen within the congregation. Those differences resulted in a three way split which reduced the membership by approximately three hundred. One group, with Rev. Davies, as the pastor, formed a church in 1984. Another group had previously formed a church in 1981. The majority of members remained at Tabernacle Baptist Church and began the search for a new pastor. In August, The Rev. John Lewis Mayshack of Waco, Texas, was called to pastor the congregation. Under “divine guidance” and the astute leadership of Pastor Mayshack along with the Deacon and Trustee Boards and auxiliary heads, Christian unity was restored to the Church body. A growing membership, over the one thousand mark once more,

A greatly enhanced financial status, a well-cared for beautiful sanctuary in which to worship, an educational area in which children and youth can be instructed in religious principles, and a membership which closes each Sunday worship service singing “There’s a sweet, sweet, spirit in this place, and I know that it’s the spirit of the lord!”

The Tabernacle Church membership will continue the dedication of its founders. With third and fourth generation descendants of Tabernacle Pioneers serving significant roles of leadership, we will regain the community and national reputation once held during the sixty year period of achievement, often referred to as the “Perry Years.” (1915-1979) The membership looks forward with great hope and continued harmony under the guidance of our great leader, our pastor the Reverend John Lewis Mayshack Sr., who with his beloved family has brought an aura of Christian fellowship to Tabernacle Baptist Church… and the church continues to grow! On Sunday June 12, 1994, Tabernacle celebrated  the mortgage burning to signify our freedom from financial debt on our current location as was done seventy-seven years before!