Church tradition tells us that Tabernacle began as an oasis for weary travelers. In the 1700’s the New Garden Road wound its way from Fayetteville to Greensboro, North Carolina, and to points northwest of here. People stopped around our current location to take advantage of a nearby spring. Tradition tells of one group who stopped to camp here one night. A very ill child with a high fever was among them. Nursed tenderly through the night, the child died near daybreak and was buried in or near the older part of the current church cemetery. As the story goes, those in attendance at the funeral commented that a church should be located at the spot since so many people stopped here to camp.
It is reported that around 1790 Methodist preachers traveling by horseback (called ”circuit riders“) began to frequent the area. A brush arbor was built in what is now the south side of the cemetery. Later a log building was erected to serve as a permanent church structure. Available records say that Roger Kirkman pulled logs by horse and chain to help build this structure.
In 1800 Tabernacle was organized as a Methodist Episcopal Church, becoming Methodist Protestant in 1830. In 1839 the first frame building was erected and the old log church was torn down. On March 6, 1841 a deed was drawn by Jonathan Causey, John Hardin, Samuel Hunter, Jonathan Forbis and Joseph Alexander for transfer of the land on which our historic chapel now stands. The deed also included the old part of the cemetery. The payment was for two dollars.
Plans for our historic chapel were begun in 1888. Construction began the following year and the church was completed in 1891. The cost was around $2,500. Church membership at that time was about 300. In addition to regular Sunday services, camp meetings were held each fall with preaching under the Arbor. Members camped while services were held three times daily. It was a joyous time of fellowship and renewal.
The North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church met at Tabernacle in the years 1861, 1872, 1880, and 1892. Tabernacle has the distinction of having many conference presidents as pastors.
Since its beginning Tabernacle has continued to flourish in its ministry and influence throughout southeast Guilford County. In recent history two classroom wings were constructed, one completed in 1968 and the other in 1976. Our current sanctuary was completed in 1994 between the two wings, completing a vision of a permanent and lasting church structure. Church membership currently stands at approximately 800 people.