The Tabernacle of Praise Christian Church is the vision of its fiery founder and passionate pastor – Dr. W. L. Nathaniel, Jr. This ministry was actually indirectly inspired by the pastor’s father Wesley L. Nathaniel, Sr. On Father’s Day of 1999, Papa Nate shared with Pastor Nate that he knew his days upon this earth were numbered. He asked Pastor Nate if he would consider coming back to Memphis to continue in his pastoral ministry so he would be close enough to take care of his mother.
Papa Nate went home to be with the Lord in September 1999, and Pastor Nate preached his father’s eulogy. Pastor Nate later shared his father’s request with his wife Cassandra of continuing his pastoral ministry in Memphis. They entered into a period of prayer and fasting as they considered a move from Ventura County California to Memphis Tennessee. It was late Spring/early Summer of 2000 that the vision for starting a church in Memphis was birthed. So after more prayer and fasting, Pastor Nate and 1st Lady Cassandra shared with their family about the move back to Memphis to start a church. Because they had grown to be such a close-knit family, one by one, each one of their children made their move back to Memphis even before their parents. First it was (Min.) Kevin in October 2000, followed by David in April 2001, Wesley, his wife Angela, and daughters Imani & Amari in August 2001, and finally (Min.) Kendra in January 2002.
In December 2002, Pastor Nathaniel conducted the initial planning session for the Tabernacle of Praise Christian Church at the Levi Elementary School. Corporate paperwork was completed andthe church received her initial charter in January 2003. So with a hand full of family and friends, Pastor and 1st Lady Cassandra made plans to come to Memphis sometime late summer/early fall of 2003. However, the Master Planner had a different set of orders for the Nathaniel’s to follow. Unbeknownst to Pastor Nate, God put the Tabernacle of Praise on hold because the Lord had predestined some other faithful followers to pick up before setting sail on the maiden voyage of TOP. So after 28+ years, Pastor and Sis. Nate left CA in October 2004, made a brief 11-month layover to pick up other passengers God had destined for TOP.
A second TOP planning session was conducted on September 15, 2005; and the charter was reinstated on September 26, 2005. After several subsequent strategy sessions, on Wednesday October 19, 2005 the Tabernacle of Praise held its inaugural Bible study session at the Unity Church of Memphis and 36 members joined. The inaugural worship was held on the following Sunday October 23, 2005 and 27 members joined.
We acquired our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status during the 2006 calendar year. With the anticipation of building our own church facility, we purchased a 7.4-acre parcel of land in February of 2007. After the Unity Church of Memphis building was sold, we relocated to the Ross Elementary School. We held our services there from April 2007 until October 2007. We then moved to our current location at 4325 Hacks Cross Road, which provided a worship environment more conducive to growth.
To date, we have 210+ members on the roll. We entered into an 18-month lease with the option for six additional months. Because of its proximity to the majority of our current congregation and its visibility because of passing traffic, we attempted to purchase this facility on Hacks Cross but were unable to negotiate a price that was agreeable to both buyer and seller.
We then turned our attention to building our own church facility on the parcel of land on Shelby Drive; however, the ownership of the Hacks Cross facility changed hands. So we reentered into negotiations with the current owners to purchase the church on Hacks Cross Road. By faith, we prayerfully anticipated the hand of God to once again “make a way.” As we approached the end of our lease, with about four months remaining, God showed us favor once again. We purchased the Hacks Cross facility in June 2009.
So at a time when the world was wringing their hands and worrying about the economy, the people of God at the TOP are investing in kingdom building, which always guarantees a positive return on investment. The Tabernacle of Praise has made great strides in our brief four-year history and by the grace of God; we will continue to demonstrate what faith God in God can do. We serve a God is able to do exceeding, abundantly, and above all that we ask or think; according to the power that works within us. The power of faith, coupled with works, will allow us to continue to accomplish great things for the Lord. Stay encouraged TOP because eyes have not seen, nor ears heard; neither has it entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love Him!