At 200 years old, Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Poquoson has a mix of old and new.
Each Sunday, there are three services — a contemporary service with newer songs, guitars and drums; a traditional service with liturgical music, an organ and choir in the main worship space; and a blended service that has a little bit of both.
“Churches have to practice both in memory and hope,” said Jim Earley, the church’s pastor for the last two years. “If you only look on the past, you become a museum. If you only look forward, you forget where you came from.”
Throughout the year, the church has celebrated its 200 years in Poquoson, and the main event happens this Sunday, with a large service at 11 a.m. and guest sermon from Youtha Hardman-Cromwell, a faculty member at the Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C.
The land deed for Tabernacle Episcopal Methodist Church, the first iteration of Tabernacle, was recorded in court Oct. 20, 1817. The land cost $7.50.
Since then, Tabernacle has been through four buildings, a devastating fire and numerous renovations and additions. The church also saw floods and storms, the Civil War and the split of the Methodist Church over slavery in 1844 and the eventual reunification in 1939.
Rusty Sackett, the church’s director of ministry development, said Tabernacle has a mix of longtime attendees and newer members who came to Poquoson through the military or other major employers. Sackett came about 10 years ago through the Air Force.
As outreach, Sackett said members go on service trips, recently to Appalachia, where participants ranged from 14 to 84 years old. The church has food pantries, participates in the city food bank and hosts an annual block party.
“It’s the Methodist identity to be a part of the community,” Earley said.
Sunday’s celebration service will combine the church’s three services into one, featuring all the music ensembles at the church. Several former pastors and members of their families will attend as well.
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