This history had its origin with God in the beginning of the year 1898 under the leadership of Rev. C. H. Holloway, who moved into this community from Danburg. He said when he moved that God revealed unto him to start a meeting. He obeyed the Holy Spirit and selected a place to build a church.
At first, he secured a little store room from Mrs. Sophie Mickens which was located on the corner of Butler Street and Lexington Road, now Lexington Avenue. This property was later owned by Bro William Smith and Sis. Sally Smith, members of this church; then it was owned by Mr. John Hill and his wife Gladys. The spot is now owned by Sis. Mozell Gartrell, a member of this church. The front of the building was facing Lexington Road. There were only a few present at the beginning, but they began having such good prayer meetings until the crowd was too large to have meetings there. So they organized themselves into a Christian band of workers in 1899.
The original twelve who were in the organization were: Rev. Fuller, Rev. C. H. Holloway, Deacon E. B. Walker, Deacon Robert Sutton, Deacon S. Q. Owens, Bro. Squire Adams, Sister Sophie Mickens, Bro. Jake Howard, Sister Hattie Adams, Deacon West Willis, Sister Willie Willis, and Rev. B. B. Dunn who was acting secretary. On July 7, 1899, as recorded in the deed to the land, Mark Cooper Pope gave this land for a church for the sum of $5.00 just to make it legal. The first part of the deed reads, “ STATE OF GEORGIA:COUNTY OF WILKES: This indenture made the 7th day of July eighteen hundred and ninety nine between Mark Cooper Pope of the one part and C. W. Holloway, E. R. Richardson, E. B. Walker, J. W. Willis, J. C. Howard, S. Owens, Isam Jordan, R. L. Sutton et al Trustees of Marks Tabernacle and their successors in office of the other part.”. The 12 links have been broken and gone into a land unknown, but because of their work, we are here today.
Rev. G. W. Gross and Rev. J. W. Binns, both white, were there when this church was named. The name St. Mark was suggested in honor of Mark Cooper Pope who gave this present spot for a church seat. But Rev. Gross objected to the Saint being added to that name because the Saint was too holy, and the other too earthly. He offered this name, Mark’s Tabernacle Baptist Church, and it was accepted.
The deacons decided to move, having raised their money, to the Gospelaid Hall to have their meetings while waiting for the church to be completed. Lumber was placed on the ground, and the carpenters began building on the church. But while the church stood there framed, a wind and hail storm came and blew it into splinters. They did not give up. In a few months, the building was in shape for services.
At this time, the Sunday school had its beginning. There were two classes. Bro. Squire Adams and Bro. West Willis were teachers of the Young People and Adult Classes, and Sis. Willie Willis was the teacher of the Card Class. Bro. Squire Adams was the first superintendent of the Sunday school. There were about fourteen members of the Sunday school to begin with, and the membership gradually grew larger.
There is much more we could say about the structure, but we feel like it will mean more to you for us to say something about the religious growth of the church during these years than any other in the past. During these years of Christian struggling and the evidence in our faith in God, we have had prayer meetings, revivals and great preachers to come here to win souls to Christ. There are many in the community today, who have mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, and relatives, who were converted and baptized right here in this place. Once upon a time our church had a large membership. This, however, has decreased because of the moving away from this community and a falling away from Christ.
We are proud to say that we have had only 10 pastors and two interim pastors during these many years. Our first pastor was Rev. C. H. Holloway, who served us for 28 years. When he started preaching for us, we paid him $5.00. On having a larger membership added to our church, we raised his salary to $25.00 per month. Once when he was ill, Rev. E. R. McLendon served in his place. Rev. Holloway was a young minister, but was faithful in bringing souls to Christ. He ordained the following ministers: Rev. Henry Hunter, Rev. Johnny Stokes, and Rev. Jake Barksdale. While he was with us, here are some of the leading ministers who conducted successful revival meetings: Rev. N. L. Thomson, Rev. Mills, Rev. Henry Hunter, Rev. Calvin Lockhart, and Rev. A. R. Raiford.
In 1923, our church was remodeled with a brick exterior. After Rev. Holloway’s resignation in 1923, we were without a pastor for two years. We then called our second pastor, Rev. A. R. Combs in 1925. On April 7, 8, 1926, the church hosted the Third Shiloh Missionary Association Convention with the keynote speaker Dr. P. James Bryant. In 1927, the county census showed 153 members at Mark’s Tabernacle Baptist Church. We can gladly say that he was a man that stood prominent among his members. Rev. Combs served us for seven years and resigned in 1932. Then we were without a pastor for another two years.
Rev. C. H. Holloway was called a second time in 1934 after being away for nine years. He served us until his death in 1937. Then the church was without a pastor for one year.
Rev. D. H. Dixon was called from Atlanta to be our pastor in the year of 1939, and we believe that he was a man of God called to preach His word. He served us for more than a year and then resigned. Under his pastorship, Bro. Henry Taylor was set aside for a deacon.