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July 13, 2014

Gospel Tabernacle church celebrates its 60th anniversary

MARLOW — Gospel Tabernacle, a church that began in a garage, will soon celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Starting on July 19, the church will begin a weekend celebration of worship, songs and reunions with former pastors and members.

Ann Patterson, media specialist and Sunday school teacher, has been a member of the church for over 30 years. Through this time, she has learned the history of the church and seen it grow. Gospel Tabernacle formed after men interested in creating a church received donated land.

“Slowly, they received donations, so they had the funds to get a bigger building,” said Patterson. “The first church was made of houses thrown together,” said Patterson.

The church became well-known thanks to an odd feature.

“We do know that lumber was brought from Arkansas,” she said. “The church had a characteristic that made it known in the town because it had a wavy roof. They built it with green lumber which caused dips in its roof.”

Gospel Tabernacle grew and expanded in this location for the next 54 years.

With only a quarter of a block, the church did not have enough space to expand to the space it required. Instead of remodeling the church for a third time, its pastor and members decided it was time for a move.

“The building was older and needed a lot of repairs,” said Patterson. “We decided it was in the best interest of the church to buy a bigger building.”

Sherry Easley, assistant secretary, attended Gospel Tabernacle during the time of its move. Through each step of their journey to the new building, the church received guidance and assistance from God, she said.  

“Once we found the new location, the pastor asked for the amount he believed the church could spend on a new location,” she said. “While it was below the amount the buyer desired, the buyer accepted the price and even lowered it for us. Before we moved, our pastor bought new pews for the old church. It was a struggle to get them to fit. We knew God was going to give us a building that would fit.”

And he did. The church’s current location -- found between Marlow and Rush Springs -- has become the members’ new home for the past six years.

Formerly an oil field and machine shop and tanning salon, the church members and other volunteers transformed the space into a church with their own hands. Easley and her husband even helped construct one wall.

The church is now fully completed with a sanctuary and many classrooms for Bible studies.

Pastor Cleatis Jeffcoat said Gospel Tabernacle does not refer to itself as a specific denomination. The church members enjoy participating in church merely for the love of God.

“People don’t have to feel the pressure of meeting denomination requirements,” he said. “We are good where we are at. We have a good board. The people work well together. We really don’t see a need to be part of a larger umbrella denomination.”

“I feel like it makes us able to welcome anyone,” said Easley. “Anyone who comes through that door is welcomed.”

During the celebration, Jeffcoat said former pastors and church members will attend services, tell old stories and give sermons in a special reunion.

The members plan to eventually add an updated youth center and other buildings to their church.

Gospel Tabernacle church members asks for any community members with old memories or pictures of the church at either locaion to send the items to the church to add to their history.

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