Our Church History
In 1862, the second year of the Civil War, a Baptist congregation was organized by the black families near the Clover Hill coal mining district of Chesterfield County, Virginia. The first meetings were led by the white pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Chesterfield. The first black pastor, Rev. Jordan Smith, was appointed in 1865. For the first eleven years, the Church met in a bush arbor and a lumber building near the train station at Clover Hill (now Winterpock).
In 1873, under the spiritual leadership of Rev Branch, the first Church was built near the site of the present Church. At this time, the Church was named the "Tabernacle Baptist Church". During Rev. Branch's 22 year pastorate, the first Sunday School was organized.
Sometime between 1888 and 1901, under the Rev. B.T. Fletcher, a new building was constructed near the original structure. This rectangular wood framed structure with a bell tower served the congregation until the 1970's.
In 1918, Rev. A. D. Smith became pastor and served 44 years until retirement in 1962. During
his tenure the first usher board and choir were organized, the first piano was purchased,
and the building was significantly renovated, to include a choir loft, choir room and pastor's
study. Over the years Tabernacle was widely known for its festive Homecoming and Revival
services beginning the 4th Sunday in August with baptisms on the 4th Sunday in September at
a neighborhood pond on Black Road.
Under Rev. James Hick (1963-64), an outdoor baptistery was constructed on the grounds. Rev. Ollie Wells (1965-68) lead the Church to begin weekly worship services.
In 1976, a new brick sanctuary, education wing, and indoor baptismal pool were completed under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Thomas E. White (1969 to 1995). Rev. Dr. Norwood G. Carson (1996 to 2015) increased teaching and training opportunities with a great emphasis on outreach and evangelism.
In 2004, the Tabernacle Divinity School opened to provide instruction and preparation for the Christian work of ministry and mission. In March 2011, the congregation began construction on a new education wing. These additional facilities enhance Tabernacle's outreach and evangelistic ministries in service to Chesterfield County and the greater Richmond area.
Tabernacle Baptist has been blessed with distinguished and dedicated ministers for more than 150 years. The following is a list of pastors in chronological order.
1865 - 1865 Rev. Jordan Smith
1868 - 1890 Rev. Branch
1890 - 1904 Rev. B. T. Fletcher
1905 - 1906 Rev. Matthews
1906 - 1908 Rev. Turner (1st tenure)
1908 - 1912 Rev. W. Fox
1913 - 1917 Rev. Turner (2nd tenure)
1918 - 1962 Rev. Andrew D. Smith
1963 - 1964 Rev. James A. Hicks
1965 - 1968 Rev. Ollie B. Wells
1969 - 1995 Rev. Dr. Thomas E. White
1996 - 2015 Rev. Dr. Norwood G. Carson
2017 - Rev. Justin D. House