A Brief History of Our Congregation
In 1906, The Rev, Silas D. Daugherty, Missionary Superintendent of the Philadelphia Conference of the East PA Synod of the General Synod of the Lutheran Church in the United States, studied the map of West Philadelphia and decided that the area around 60th & Spruce Sts. needed a Lutheran presence. Housing was just being built. A community was developing and even then Lutherans wanted to be where the action was. Five building lots were purchased at the northeast corner of 59th & Spruce Streets in 1906.
Beginning with a Sunday School and then adding church services, Tablernacle Lutheran Church was organized with 30 members in a store front at 60th and Irving Streets on January 27, 1907. The portable frame chapel pictured above was erected thereon and was dedicated on June 16, 1907.
Various supply pastors worked under the supervision of Dr. Daugherty until the first pastor was called in 1908. The first pastor. The Rev. William J. Miller, Jr., came here right out of the Gettysburg Seminary. His entire ministry was spent in Tabernacle. He retired in 1946. His pastorate was marked by phenomenal growth. Ground was bought at 59th & Spruce Streets. Tabernacle's first building was made of half inch boards and tar paper. Often the tar on the roof, melted and seeped down onto the seats. The building was heated by two coal stoves; one in the front and one in the back. The pews were donated by St. Matthew's Church, Broad and Mt. Vernon Streets.
The building was modest to say the least. But the congregation grew rapidly. More ground was bought and a larger, grander building was erected. The present parish hall was originally designed to serve both as a church and an educational unit. It was dedicated on September 27, 1914 and served as Tabernacle's second house of worship. While land was being bought and buildings were going up, the congregation also organized itself for mission.
The Sunday School remained a vital part of Tabernacle's ministry. The Ladies Aid Society was formed. The Christian Endeavor Society was established for young people. A choir was recruited. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organized troops. The Women's Home and Foreign Missionary Society was established to support the propagation of the Faith. A Man's Brotherhood was formed to bolster fellowship. It was an active congregation.