In the 134 years since its founding by the Rev. C.T. Walker, who was just 27 years old at the time, Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta has been much more than just a house of worship. The Georgia Historical Society recognized the church's contribution to the Civil Rights Movement by dedicating a "Civil Rights Trail Historical Marker" last week.
The Rev. Charles Spencer Hamilton became senior pastor of the church in 1956 at the age of 27, and served until his retirement in 1996. He was a leader in the fight to end discrimination and segregation in Augusta. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Tabernacle in 1962 in support of Hamilton's efforts. The church became known for hosting mass rallies and non-violent strategy meetings.
In his comments during the dedication ceremony, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said, "Tabernacle became a staging area for The Civil Rights Movement that caused our nation to change. This church has alway been noted for the change and the impact that it makes."
The current senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Charles E. Goodman Jr., who took over in 2006 at the age of 27, said Tabernacle has always played a larger role in the community.
"Right here in this building, there were classes for African Americans to learn how to become automobile mechanics; there was also a doctor's office here. This Church has always been at the forefront, being different, revolutionary and impactful."
The Georgia Historical Society has erected over 250 markers across the state during the last 20 years. Approximately 36 of them recognize events and locations tied to the Civil Rights Movement.