Tabernacle Baptist Church reopens after 2012 fire

7:41 PM, Aug 4, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR - Knoxville) Members of an East Knoxville congregation celebrated in their church Sunday, for the first time in more than year.

In January 2012, a fire tore through the attic of historic Tabernacle Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Boulevard. The church sustained smoke and water damage throughout the building.

During renovations, the congregation met at nearby Vine Middle School for weekly service.

To commemorate their reopening, members marched from the school to church Sunday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"We've been displaced for 18 months and it's just a glorious feeling to be back home," said Pastor Chris Battle.

"It seems like I am dreaming and it's not real," added member Regina Sanders. "I've seen these members before at the school where we had worshipped for the past year and a half, but to see them in the sanctuary in the pews, to see the choir in the choir box, and the ministers in their seats just seems like it's not real, but it is real."

The January 2012 fire wasn't the first disaster at 100-year old Tabernacle. Church members describe another fire which broke out in the basement and sanctuary in 1951, completely destroying the building at its old location. That former church building is now a a warehouse used by the Knox Railroad Salvage Company.

Church member Larry Johnson remembers that fire, too.

"I was a 9-year-old boy at the time in 1951 when the church first burned down," he said. "It happened on a day that nine of us, nine young boys, joined the church."

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero issued a proclamation making Sunday, August 4, 2013 'Tabernacle Baptist Church Day'.

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