Growing up in the fifties we all have memories of the tabernacle which faced Murrell Street. Sunday night services and revivial meetings which were held in this building. There was a recreation facility located behind the stage. We could bowl, play ping pong, basketball or just watch the hit parade in the lounge. Not only that, did you know the class of 1955 held  baccalaureate services there?

The Tabernacle was constructed in 1927 of steel arch type construction. The land was owned by Doc. Kelly. On May 27, 1938 Mrs. Nancy Mullins Ferguson gave a generous gift to the First Baptist Church to pay for the cost of the tabernacle. In appreciation, the church dedicated the tabernacle as the: Ferguson Memorial Baptist Tabernacle Auditorium.

In 1929 the First Baptist Church asked the Webster Parish Association to assist in "planning the use of the Tabernacle". The association was also asked to help in planning annual parish-wide revival.

Portions of the above information was taken from the History of the First Baptist Church by Major dePingre

Taken from the History of the First Baptist Church by Major DePingre

My appreciation also goes to the First Baptist Church Staff and Graydon Kitchens for directing me to the right place to buy Major DePingre's second book on the First Baptist Church -- and  sending me the history and pictures from his previous book which had already sold out  by 1995. I will be forever thankful for the book and the memories.


Seeing that picture of  Lyndon Johnson in the Ferguson Memorial Baptist Tabernacle Auditorium stories listing reminded me:

I (Elizabeth Roberts Martin, Class of 1962) was a reporter at the Alexandria Daily Town Talk when it was announced that the Johnsons would attend the service at First Baptist Church in honor of George Washington Baines, the first pastor at the church and the great-grandfather of LBJ.  It was the 150th anniversary of the founding of the church.

I suggested that I go to Minden to cover the event and I could stay with Mama and Daddy and see Lyda and her family.  I could go home for the weekend and be paid for it, in other words.  The editor agreed Iíd go as photographer and Helen Derr, The Town Talkís religion writer, would write the story.  

As the time for the Johnsonsí appearance neared, Helen went into the sanctuary and saved me a seat.  I had been warned that no cameras would be allowed in the church so I hung around outside, took pictures, unloaded the camera and headed inside.  Conrad Atkins and  Eugene Allen were ushers that day and guarded the door.  

One of them told me how to enter the sanctuary without going through the churchís front door.

Helen Derr loves to tell this part of the story:  The congregation was getting restless because the service had not started on time.  As the knob slowly turned and the door opened, all eyes were trained on it.  Expecting to see the Johnsons, they saw me, sunglasses atop my head, instead.  With head held high, probably to keep my glasses from falling, I sauntered to my pew.

Within minutes the Johnsons appeared and the service proceeded as planned.  

Just as the service was ending, I walked out the same door Iíd entered, loaded my camera, and waited for the Johnsons  to leave the church.  

The picture which sparked this memory, Iím almost positive, is a flipped image. The picture I took, from the same angle, shows Conrad Atkins holding the door on the right side and Eugene Allen (not pictured) the left.   
 Elizabeth R. Martin
 Virtual Editor & Proofreader
 Norman, OK