Mt. Tabor-Celia Phelps Charge
Sunday, January 26, 2020
One Church - Two Locations


 Mt. Tabor-Celia Phelps UMC Mission Statement: “Follow Jesus, Make Disciples and Transform the World!”
Our Heritage
     Mount Tabor United Methodist Church was founded over one hundred years ago on the same acreage as now sits the present facility. The first church was simply a gathering to worship under a brush arbor.
     Its history includes the names of the Daniel Dodson, Minerva Dodson Caldwell, Minor Morgan Hall, and Alonzo Hinton families.  Daniel Dodson, although a slave, could read and write and was a property owner.  He was the organizer of the church and served as a local preacher.
     Mt. Tabor in its earliest days was both a religious and educational institution.  Daniel Dodson and Minerva Dodson Caldwell (his housekeeper) were very knowledgeable about the Bible and helped train young ministers.  Several aspiring ministers from Bennett College practiced under them. Daniel Dodson died January 25, 1916, and upon his death the Lax family took Minerva into their home, until her death.  The Lax family still treasures their possession of a watch belonging to Daniel Dodson.
     The land for the church/school was donated by a resident of the area, Emsley Armfield.  Mr. Armfield owned three slaves - Brant, Lyndon and Hannah, each of whom used the surname of Armfield.  When these slaves were freed they refused to leave the Armfield home, but stayed and were dutiful worshipers at Mt. Tabor Church.  When Mr. Armfield died, his daughter, Roxie, continued to take good care of the three former slaves.  It was Ms. Roxie Armfield who donated the cornerstone when the church was remodeled under the pastorate of Rev. J.W. Simpson.
     Rev. Simpson also gave the leadership for building the new school.  The Rosenwald Foundation agreed to build the school if the people in the community would furnish the land and framing.  Andy Gregory and John Kinley gave and sawed the timber to build.  On February 7, 1920, the Red Hill and Mt. Tabor Burial Ground Committee deeded to the Board of Education on-half acre of land for the school.  When Rena Bullock School consolidated Mt. Tabor, Red Hill and Goshen Schools, Rev. R.W. Winchester went to the Board of Education and had them deed the property back to the Church.  The trustees responsible for the Church during the period were Will Lax, Andy Gregory, Isaac Tonkins, Charlie Noble and Ed Crump.
     The Allen Family is primarily responsible for the lineage of the Mt. Tabor Community.  Isaac and Rachel Allen, who were slaves, had eight children - Rebecca, Angeline, Julia, Flora, Anna, Sarah, Barley and John.  Rebecca married Blount Tonkins, who was grandfather to Ms. Ada Tonkins.  One daughter, Maude Mock was born to this union.  Angeline married Henry Mebane and a son, John Vick, was born.  Julia married a Mr. Lindsay, and Flora a Mr. Woods.  Anna was wed to Jim Nichols, and one daughter was born to this union, Adora Atkins.  Sarah wed Jack Branch and one daughter Delphone Wilson was born.  Barley had two children - Albert and Lucille Allen.
     As fore-mentioned, Rev. John Simpson was responsible for an aggressive phase of the church's building program, starting in 1935.  His trustees were Arthur Crump, Dolphus Brooks, Dick Mebane, Elmer Branch, Oscar Crutchfield, Ed Barnes and Helen Roberts.
     The present santuary was completed in 1953 under the pastorate of Rev. P.I. Wells, with Rev. G.M. Phelps (later to serve as pastor) serving as District Superintendent.  Trustees with Rev. Wells were Archur Crump, Richard Mebane, Raymond Maxwell, Lee Brown, Elmer Branch and Willie Mebane.
     It is a tribute to the members of yesteryears that their children and grandchildren are still playing very active roles in the program of Mt. Tabor Church.
     The Church has been served by the following pastors:  Frank Allen, Daniel Dodson, Rev. Gibson, Rev. Ship, John Jones, M.M. Jones, George Byers, Robert Herbin, Rev. Abernathey, A.M. Erwin, Rev. McGown, P.A. Taylor, J.W. Simpson, Dr. A.S. Peeler, R.A. Sharpe, S.L. Townsend, O.C. Crutchfield, W.T. Rankin, Jr., Victor Herbin, P.I. Wells, J.W. Shuford, R.A. McCallum, G.M. Phelps, David Harkness, Lawrence Johnson, Liston Sellers, Jr., Avery Robinson, John A. Moore, Clarence A. Smith, Jr., Glenn L. Lytles, Moses E. Hodnett, Rev. Dr. Sharon Adams, and presently Larry E. Fitzgerald.
     Mt. Tabor, through its dedicated leaders and members, has grown and contributed much to the spiritual and educational growth of the community it serves.  During this celebration we give thanks to our forefathers and present membership who gave and continue to give of themselves to make this a respected institution in the community, the District and the Conference.
     We are extremely proud of our rich, colorful history and the traditions started over one hundred years ago.  But the story of Mt. Tabor is not found entirely in the events of the past and present.  Ours is a continuing story, and it is being written every day by the many dedicated people who live a life of Christian example and service.