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Tabernacle Baptist Church


Tabernacle Baptist Church
Rebecca Rogers

Tabernacle Baptist Church, established in 1885, is Augusta’s largest black congregation and a church with a national reputation.  Its founder and first pastor, Charles T. Walker (1858-1921), was well known for his powerful preaching and for bringing the Walker Baptist Institute to Augusta in 1898.

Tabernacle Baptist Church was formed by members of the Central Baptist Church, which at that time was led by Reverend Walker. The congregation bought a lot on Ellis Street and constructed a two-story brick building with an auditorium that held 800.

The expanding congregation outgrew the Ellis Street Church. Property was then secured at the corner of Harrison and Gwinnett Streets (Laney—Walker Boulevard) that better suited the congregation’s needs, and a new church was constructed by 1915. The impressive sanctuary with its two towers was designed with Italian Renaissance influences and has educational facilities on the first floor with an auditorium above that can seat more than 2,000.  At this location, Tabernacle Baptist quickly grew into the largest church for African Americans in Augusta.

Reverend Walker’s speaking abilities brought prominent visitors from around the country to worship. Many important individuals attended services at the church such as Booker T. Washington, John D. Rockefeller, and President William Howard Taft. Reverend Walker instituted a wide variety of educational offerings at the church including cooking; sewing; automobile, business, and night schools; a laundering department; a library; and a reading room. Long after his death, Tabernacle Baptist continued to play an important role in the community and served as a base for the Civil Rights Movement in Augusta in the 1960s.

Beginning in early 2001, Tabernacle Baptist spent five months and $550,000 to rehabilitate the historic church. Now inside, shiny brass railings reflect the new crimson colored carpet, and the old pews have been refurbished, along with three paintings from 1910 that adorn the sanctuary. The church stands as a landmark in the Laney—Walker neighborhood.

Plan your visit

Tabernacle Baptist Church is located at 1223 Laney—Walker Blvd. within the boundaries of the Laney—Walker North Historic District. Tours are by appointment only.  To arrange, call 706-724-1230. Free. For more information, visit the church's website.  

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