The Faith Tabernacle United Holy Church of America has a vibrant history in the city of Washington, D.C. Our legacy commences with the vision of a great woman of God who bore in her heart a message of hope and salvation. The Reverend Estella Black migrated from Kinston, NC in 1922. Upon her arrival and to her dismay, she found the United Holy Church (UHC) did not exist in this area. Hence, she began to fellowship with the saints at The Temple Church of God in Christ where Bishop Samuel Kelsey was the pastor. After a short period, she became acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Abram Mitchell who had been members of the St. John UHC in Zebulon, NC. This friendship gave birth to a prayer meeting in their home. These few dedicated saints desired to do something tangible for God, and in March of 1924, after much prayer and fasting, Mother Black received a vision from God to build Him a house. Reverend Black accepted her commission willingly and began the work of establishing the foundation. On a cold wintry night, the never-to-be-forgotten words rang through the small room with fervor and power -- “Faith Tabernacle.” Indeed, the United Holy Church had been planted in Washington, DC. In March 1925, Bishop G. J. Branch officially organized and incorporated the Church located at 410 V Street, NW. Reverend Black was appointed Pastor and Mrs. Rhoda Mitchell was appointed the Church mother. Mr. Mitchell, accompanied by his daughters, Carrie, Mary, and Annie, were the first members. Due to the dynamic message of deliverance and salvation preached by Pastor Black, souls were saved and added to the Church. The walls of V Street were not only filled with the praises of the saints, but there was seldom standing room. We knew it was time to take God’s people to a larger edifice. In 1942, two lots were purchased at 49th & Central Avenue, NE. However, this dream was never realized as the Lord called Mother Black from labor to reward on December 20, 1947.
Under the capable leadership of Fred McKeithen, Chairman of the Board of Deacons, and with Elder George B. Morton at the helm, assisted by other ministers, the favor of the Lord was yet extended to the Family of Faith. With the desire to purchase a completed edifice, Deacon Harry J. Holmes shared the information of the availability of a church at 1015 D Street, NE. The congregation unanimously agreed to buy the church, and with the help of God and the sale of two lots, Faith was enabled to make a substantial down payment. Faith Tabernacle held its initial service on December 31, 1948 with the Church rejoicing all day and throughout the watch night service. Bishop G. J. Branch dedicated the new edifice on January 9, 1949. Our beloved Pastor, Elder Morton, was led to resign shortly after this move.
Again, the Church was called to fasting and prayer—while tenaciously holding to Mother Black’s vision that “a young man shall come, take the reins, and lead the people.” In his capacity as District Elder, Nelson L. Miller served while we prayerfully awaited a leader. With a dwindling membership and encumbered with three mortgages, Reverend Joseph T. Bowens was called to pastor Faith Tabernacle in December 1950. This great expositor of the Word of God, with his rich and uncompromising ministry, called masses to confess their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Under his leadership, the membership flourished and the result was once again to consider a more spacious place of worship. In specific detail, our Pastor described the vision given him by the Lord. We grasped faith, honored God’s man by following his leadership, and were blest to enter our new edifice at 300 A Street, NE in the spring of 1964. Bishop J. M. McLaurin was the officiant for this great service. Since moving to our new home, we have had many memorable occasions including: In 1966, the Church was recognized by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society with the “Best Exterior Non-Residential Award” for special care and restoration efforts. In 1967, this historic landmark was chosen as the site for the unveiling of the Frederick Douglas commemorative stamp.In 1983, our mortgage was liquidated. A great mortgage burning service was held in August and the theme was “The Lord Hath Done Great Things For Us, Whereof We Are Glad” (Psalms 126:3).
The late Elder Harold N. Barber proudly and faithfully served this Church as its Assistant Pastor. In 1991, to honor his memory, the Church dedicated the newly renovated steeple, now known as “The Barber Memorial Tower,” in honor of this gentle man who served God’s people for 17 years. A few years ago, our Deacons and Trustees shared a vision to extensively renovate and redecorate both the exterior and interior of our Church, and today, we sit in an exquisite edifice. To God be all the glory, all the honor and all the praise! We thank our officers for their tenacity, leadership, and guidance. The Official Board has our continued support. We remained a closely-knit family even at the demise on May 16, 1995 of one whose memory we revere, our Pastor, Bishop Joseph T. Bowens.
Thereafter, pastoral responsibility was placed on the Reverend Lorraine Barber, who served with dedication and commitment; leading us to fast and pray that God’s will be done in securing the shepherd who shall be responsible for our souls, and lead our Church into the 21st century.
We welcomed The Rev. Dr. James Ricardo Love, Sr., his wife Deborah and their family, on August 10, 1997. Dr. Love was officially installed on Sunday, March 7, 1999. Dr. Love sincerely believed the mission of the church was to minister and exhibit compassion for God’s people and to provide sound teaching because the true message of Jesus Christ has been watered down. In order to break the urban cycle of poverty and oppression, he believed our communities need the empowerment that comes from a practical education that combines biblical principles with real world knowledge and application. After providing 10 years of spiritual leadership, Dr. Love felt led of the Lord to complete his tenure as Pastor of Faith Tabernacle in July of 2007. District Elders James Johnson, Herbert B. Chambers, and Anthony Gilmore guided the congregation during this transitional period.
In May 2009, Elder L. Frazier White II, a dynamic speaker and teacher, was selected to lead Faith Tabernacle. Pastor White was ordained in 1996 by the United Holy Church of America and later that year, became the pastor of Faith Temple Church. Pastor White is a radical visionary with a focus on urban change and transformation, with a heart for the lost and disenfranchised. He, along with his wife, Lady Danette White and their three children have gladly embraced the opportunity to continue the legacy of Christian ministry in the nations’ capital.
On Sunday, July 10, 2011, Faith Tabernacle and Faith Temple (founded in May 1986 by Reverend Cleo White with the assistance of her husband, Deacon Lionel White) were unified in an historic ceremony which empowered us with renewed hope and replenished vigor. We press forward to become the “Full-Service” church that is ready to meet the needs of a 21st Century Culture through the power of Jesus Christ. With God helping us, our Church and ministry will continue to grow as we minister to diverse communities. Faith Tabernacle welcomes you to come join our story.
Pastor Estella Black
Elder George Morton
District Elder Nelson Miller
Bishop J.T. Bowens
Elder Lorraine Barber
Dr. James Love
Pastor L. Frazier White, II