In 1960 Pastor Kenneth Heck, a former resident of Tioga, and his wife returned to Tioga to begin work establishing the Tabernacle Baptist Church, a fundamental, independent church, with twelve charter members. The first meeting and service for organizational purposes was held at the home of his brother, Merrit Heck, on the Elkhorn Road, with twenty-four persons present. This resulted with meetings and Bible Studies being held in the Grange Hall which remained the home of the church until land was purchased.
Land 250 x 125 ft., with room for expansion, was purchased on the corner of Sunset Drive and Meadow Street and construction began in the fall of 1961. Rev. Heck designed the church and constructed the pulpit and pews with the help of his brother. The auditorium was completed by Christmas Eve of 1961, when the first service was held with almost 100 attending. Cost of the neat frame church with cinder block foundation was $24,000. The church was a mission of the West Texas and New Mexico Baptist Fellowship. Gary Meyers was pasturing the church when the church was flooded during the flood of 1972. While under Pastor Charles Jones, the church made its Final Mortgage Payment in 1979. With this done, the church held a ceremony where they burned the mortgage papers.
From 1960, Ten Pastors have pastored this church. They are the following:
- Kenneth Heck from 1961-1963;
- Glen Willis from 1963-1965;
- Edward Wienburg from1965-1966;
- Pastor Neidy in 1967;
- Nodeen; Littie; John H. Robinson in 1968;
- Gary Myers from 1969-1972;
- Charles Jones from 1973-1981;
- Don Bruner from 1981-1983;
- Michael Brady from 1983-1992 and
- Julian Weil from 1992-1999.
- Tioga’s current Pastor to our heritage of faith is Pastor Steven P. Neff of twelve years residence (from 1999-2011).
Some Interesting Facts: The church held many baptisms in TV Lake (Mann Hill Rd., Tioga) and in the Hammond River (before it was Hammond Lake). The church has averaged close to twelve baptisms each year with the past few pastors. Glenn Willis was the church’s first Assistant Pastor and was only paid the amount of what a preacher made for performing a Marriage Ceremony. At one time the church was known for being a marriage chapel. The church still holds many marriages each year. The building had many repairs in the 1980’s that cost up to $10,000. Those repairs included extending the front of the auditorium into the parsonage and laundry room (now pastor’s office and bathrooms). They also moved the baptistery from the front to the back for more room. The steel chimney which previously was located in the right front was moved outside (to make room) to the side of the porch where it is still today. The kitchen downstairs became what is now the nursery. Although there were many other changes made to the building throughout the years, those previously mentioned are the ones that …