Vision / Mission / History
Changed lives living out the call to serve and love.
Reaching people for God, Equipping believers in the faith, Sending disciples to serve.
History of Mount Tabor Baptist Church
Founded in 1872
Before the Civil War, Negro slaves did not have the freedom, nor a place to worship God as they desired. They met secretly in their slave quarters to nourish and fulfill their spiritual needs. If their masters caught them praying or giving praises to God, they were punished severely. It was this fear, which caused them to use all kinds of utensils to muffle the sounds of their prayers and songs. No wonder the slaves were happy when they heard the good news that “The War has ended,” and the slaves were set free. But they still did not have a designated place to worship their God. Therefore, they met from place to place seeking the Lord’s guidance and mercy.
A few years prior to 1872, Mr. Daniel Porter organized a mission Sunday School in his home on the corner of Walnut and Selden streets. The Sunday School later moved to the home of Mr. Hamilton Garnett on Ragland Street, west of Walnut Street. It was there that Mount Tabor Baptist Church was organized, with Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Bates, Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Hailstake, Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Carter, and a few others.
In 1872, Rev. C. C. Faggins was elected Pastor and served 14 years. Some years later, the church was given a parcel of land at Cedar and Selden Streets. The members pooled their resources, talents ingenuity and worked together in designing and building their first small church, which was 30 x 40 feet. Under Rev. Faggins leadership, the church prospered, and its program expanded. His influence in the community was highly respected and recognized.
Upon the passing of Rev. Faggins, the pastorate of the church passed on to the Rev. H. Mayo, who served five years (1886-1891). His leadership emphasized physical and spiritual improvements within the church.
At the turn of the century, the leadership was transferred to Rev. J. T. Turner, who served as pastor for ten years. He devoted his time largely to the tasks of bettering the moral and material conditions of his flock.
After the leadership of Rev. Turner, Rev. R. J. Bass became pastor and served 27 years. During his administration, many members were added to the church. He was deeply interested in the younger members and took delight in instructing them in religious activities.
Rev. W. H. Skipwith, often referred to as “The Singing Evangelist”, served as the pastor of the church for five years. With his direction, extensive renovation was accomplished, and many members continued to be added to the church roll.
Upon the resignation of Rev. Skipwith, the leadership of the church was passed to Dr. C. S. McCall, who was nominated by the Pulpit Committee. Rev. McCall was formally notified of his appointment. A young man, full of courage, ambition and possessing an abundance of faith in the goodness of humankind, Rev. McCall embarked upon his ministry at the church on April 5, 1933.
Although our country was in the midst of the Great Depression, that attacked every thread of our family fabric, Rev. McCall–in his characteristic forthright manner–assumed his ministry with dignity and courage. Lives may have been shattered and businesses crumbled, it was in the Master’s Plan for the Mount Tabor Baptist Church to persevere under this dynamic Christian leader, Dr. C. S. McCall.
With the Housing and Re-Development Program for the City of Richmond in action, the old Mt. Tabor Church and land on the corner of Cedar and Selden Streets were purchased in order to make way for a Housing Project. From June 30 to December 29, 1957, services were held in the Woodville Elementary School.
The congregation moved into its present church building on January 1, 1958. Our current edifice was comparatively new, constructed between the years of 1947 and 1948 by Fairmount Memorial Baptist Church. It has a seating capacity of 550, and Sunday Church School accommodations for more than 700. In 1967, the mortgage was burned. Truly, the Lord has smiled upon us.
During the tenure of Dr. C. S. McCall, Deacon Grace Williams was the first woman ordained as a Deacon at Mount Tabor Baptist Church. Morristine Ruvette Bowman was the first woman licensed minister at Mount Tabor Baptist Church. Just before Dr. Mc Call’s retirement, Deacon Morristine Bowman became the first woman chair of the Diaconate ministry.
Dr. McCall was a Richmond institution. He was called “The Dean”, “The Bridgebuilder”, and “friend”. In June 1987, Rev. Dr Cary S. McCall retired and became our Pastor Emeritus. Dr. McCall had served his congregation unselfishly and humbly for 54 years. He became the first minister to remain at one church for that length of time in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dr. and Mrs. McCall will always be cherished at Mount Tabor for their devoted service.
Although the pulpit was temporarily declared vacant upon Dr. McCall’s retirement, the congregation firmly believed that our Almighty Father would send a shepherd to lead His flock.
The leadership of Mount Tabor Baptist was passed to Rev. Dr. Charles E. Jones in December of 1988. Under his leadership, the membership, and the overall attendance in worship services and evangelistic efforts in the Church Hill community increased. He established the Future Fund for church renovations and additions; established the Children’s Ministry, and organized the Summer Day Camp Academy. He was instrumental in bringing the Church Hill Cooperative Baptist Ministry to Mount Tabor. Also, under his leadership, Rev. Jones ordained the first woman minister, Rev. Morristine Ruvette Bowman.
Dr. C. E. Jones’ emphasis was to uplift the church, and not the office of Pastor. He constantly praised the church and church officers for the progress made. His concern for the upkeep of our church building led to the renovation of our roof, the restoration of our Hammond organ, and the Restoration-Renovation Project to update church facilities in preparation for future ministries.
From June 3, 1993 to May 13, 1994, our church was under the leadership of our Assistant Pastor, Reverend Herbert L. Ponder. Rev. Ponder carried the church forward, continuing the emphasis of Mount Tabor’s role in the community, the youth, and the family needs of our neighborhood. We ventured into a program with Whitcomb Elementary School called “Walk to Win”. Weekly, members of Mount Tabor would walk in a school to show the children how good God is, and how, through Him, we all can be better citizens.
On May 14, 1994, Reverend Dr. Herbert L. Ponder was elected Pastor of Mount Tabor Baptist Church. Under Dr. Ponder’s leadership, the church has continued its spiritual and physical growth. Dr. Ponder’s pastorate has emphasized the importance of Christian education and discipleship in the spiritual and physical growth of our membership. As a result, Mount Tabor has become a seven-day church, with various Bible study and fellowship opportunities.
In striving to be spiritually redemptive, educationally respectable and socially responsible we have reached outside the walls in order to reach our community for the Lord. We have held several community oriented evangelistic events, health expo and church picnics to celebrate with the community.
Dr. Ponder established the following ministry categories to minister to the wide variety of needs for the people of God: Worship and Praise, Education and Discipleship, Koinonia, Evangelism and Missions, Congregational Care, Property Care and Administration. Pastor Ponder has emphasized the importance and integration of technology with new computers and Wi-Fi. Several other ministries have been added to aid the people of God: Dream Makers Academy, Comfort Ministry, Parking Ministry, Overcomer’s Ministry, Mid-Day Senior Bible Study, Ordaining of ministers and deacons, Acquisition of property, Participants in Black Church Leadership Conference, One Church-One Child Adoption, Website launched in June 2006, replacing sanctuary lights, and WOW (Worship on Wednesday) services.
With the Word of God as our guide, it is our desire to continue to Make A Difference in the Community for the Kingdom of God.
The history of Mount Tabor Baptist Church reveals interesting facts about the physical growth of the church, while depicting a colorful trail over which the brave and determined forbearers of our present church generation traveled many years ago.
With reverence for the past, faith in the present and hope for the future, Mount Tabor Baptist Church is moving toward new ministry challenges, building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. We will continue to dedicate our lives to service, perpetuating Christian principles of love, peace and truth in God. We thank God for this great church and we pray that the future will become even greater in spiritual uplift and outreach with Pastor Ponder as our shepherd.
If you have any questions regarding Mount Tabor Baptist Church or our vision, history, or mission, we invite you to contact us at 804-643-0903 today.