Our History

1930’s A Church is Born

The Tabernacle was a vision of the Reverend Gordon Bender, former missionary to Japan, who was then the Pastor of Riverside Assembly of God Church. Brother Bender invited a young minister by the name of Joseph Flower to become his Assistant Pastor and founded a church in the south Buffalo area. Prayer meetings began in a house on Edson Street and eventually a lot was purchased on Seneca Street from John Sattler and a temporary structure was built. The congregation began to grow and Pastor Flower married a young, energetic evangelist by the name of Mary Jane Carpenter. A Sunday School bus brought scores of children to the church.

The decade is marked by the following events:

  • Cottage Prayer Meeting is launched in home of Mrs. Ferguson
  • Reverend Gordon Bender and Riverside Assembly plants a new church
  • Reverend Joseph Flower becomes the first pastor of South Buffalo Tabernacle
  • Lot is purchased on Seneca Street from John Sattler
  • First building is erected
  • South Buffalo Tabernacle launches a “Bus Ministry”
  • Pastor Joseph Flower marries his evangelist, Mary Jane Carpenter

1940’s | A Growing Church

The 1940’s were a time of war and unrest in America.   During this era, a local business- man, who owned a tire store across the street loaned his facility to help the church grow a Sunday School.   Classes were conducted in Babe Boyce’s store and in an old abandoned bus.   Other pastors came to serve the congregation including Malius Davidson, Elmer Bilton, and Edward Schlossmacher.    The congregation began to grow and the South Buffalo Tabernacle passed the 100 mark in attendance.

The decade is marked by the following events:

  • Sunday School classes were conducted in Babe Boyce’s store and in a bus
  • Attendance passes the 100 mark
  • Pastors Malius Davidson, Elmer Bilton and Edward Schlosshmacher lead church

1950’s | A New Building and A New Vision

The 1950’s brought a new vision to The Tabernacle. Under the ministry of John Brown, a beautiful brick church building was purchased from the Salem Lutheran Church. The Lutheran congregation was receptive to accept approximately one half of the amount of money that was offered by the Roman Catholic Church so that their building would serve their own Protestant tradition. It was in this building that the Reid Evangelistic Party preached their first revival. The first new Hammond organ was purchased. At the end of this decade, Reverend Jack Risner became the Pastor of the growing South Buffalo congregation.

The decade is marked by the following events:

  • Salem Lutheran Church is purchased
  • First Hammond organ is installed
  • Reid Evangelistic Party conducts Revival Crusade
  • Reverend Jack Risner becomes Pastor

1960’s | Pastor Reid Comes to Buffalo From Asia

In 1963, Pastor Tommy Reid returned from being the Pastor of Bethel Temple in Manila, Philippines and a year’s ministry with Dr. Cho in Korea. In his spirit, he saw a great revival coming to Buffalo.    Even after years of success in evangelism, five years pastoring one of the largest churches in the world, and assisting Dr. Cho in establishing what became the largest church in history, Pastor Reid found it impossible to grow the church in Buffalo. This vision proved to be one of the most challenging God had given him.  Then, two great miracles happened to make the impossible, possible.

First, Pastor Reid’s aunt, Kathryn Burmeister  donated our very valuable property. Through the sacrificial gifts of the congregation the first building of the present complex was built on this property.

Then, came a phenomenal move of the Holy Spirit to the Roman Catholic Church and over 100,000 people received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Buffalo area. During this decade, Pastor David and Alma Bemis became the Associate Pastors.  His stated purpose in life was to serve another man’s vision.  Many lives were blessed because of this man’s servant heart.

Pastor Tommy experienced three visitations from The Lord. God instructed him, “Become part of what I am doing.”  As a result of this church being receptive to Charismatic renewal, the attendance increased from approximately 120 people to over 800 persons in a single week. The revival the congregation had prayed for was now taking place.

The decade is marked by the following events:

    • Pastor Reid becomes Pastor of South Buffalo Tabernacle in 1963
    • Mrs. Kathryn Burmeister donates property in Orchard Park
    • David and Alma Bemis become Senior Associate Pastors and begin their service of 29 years to The Tabernacle
    • Charismatic Renewal comes to Buffalo
    • The Tabernacle grows from 120 in attendance to over 800 in one week

1970’s | A Decade of Charismatic Renewal

How do you describe the move of the Holy Spirit that was now taking place? Perhaps the term “unbelievable” could be used. Thousands coming to Christ, and it seemed that Bible days were here again. The Tabernacle seemed to become the very center of what God was doing. As a result of this move of the Holy Spirit and the explosive church growth, we were forced to add a new sanctuary to our complex. Even with the new space, there was still insufficient room for everyone to attend.  Sometimes people climbed through windows, or stood outside when every available space was filled indoors. It was also a decade where we rented the largest convention center in the area and thousands attended our conferences. Now our pulpit hosted the major Bible teachers and evangelists. When someone would ask Pastor Reid what he knew about church growth he would say, “I know nothing, I have had nothing to do with this, I simply stood on the sidelines and watched God move”.

A new group of people known as “Jesus People” came to Pastor Reid looking for a church to make their home. The Tabernacle became such a home, forming a ministry to these young people known as “Lost & Found.” They were unusual to say the least, but filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to be used to advance the Gospel. The church grew by the hundreds.

Young  Benny Hinn began to minster monthly at The Tabernacle. Most months he ministered twice on Sunday night and once on Sunday morning. Today he still considers Pastor Reid his personal pastor and ministers from this pulpit on a regular basis.

Trinity Television was established, being one of the first churches in America to produce and air three hours of daily programming.

Finally, this was the decade when Pastor Reid authored the best seller, “The Exploding Church” which tells the story of the growth of The Tabernacle.

The decade is marked by the following events:

  • New sanctuary built to accomodate such amazing growth
  • “Jesus People” joined our congregation
  • David DuPlessis, Harald Bredesen and other well known speakers minster
  • Benny Hinn becomes part of the church family and ministers monthly
  • Trinity Television was established
  • The “Exploding Church” the story of The Tabernacle becomes a “best seller”

1980’s | A Decade of Expansion

A new sanctuary was built that seated 1,300 persons. After attending a conference with his friend, Dr. Cho from Korea, Pastor Reid purchased a series of tapes of the ministry of Dr. Roy Harthern, Pastor of Calvary Assembly in Orlando, Florida. On that tape, Dr. Harthern said, “I was preaching to more and more people and I knew less and less of their names”.  As the pastor heard those words, he identified with what was being said and knew he had to do what the tape suggested, divide the city into sections, put district leaders in each section over cell groups in their section of the city. It was then a miracle happened. The cell groups grew and multiplied until there were over 246 groups under the capable direction of Pastor David Hernquist. Many of those district leaders became pastors of their sections of the city and out of those cell groups sixteen branch campus churches were founded.

In 1980, The Tabernacle hosted Dr. Cho for one of his first Church Growth Conferences in America. The Tabernacle would become the American offices for Dr. Cho’s world wide television ministry. During this decade we birthed Buffalo School of The Bible, the Food Pantry, and the ministry of Kingdom Bound.

The decade is marked by the following events:

    • Building of new 1,300 seat sanctuary
    • Establishment of Buffalo School of The Bible
    • Establishment of the Association of Church Related Bible Schools
    • Establishment of over 200 Bible Schools in America
    • Building of 246 Cell Groups
    • Establishment of 10 branch churches
    • Dr. Cho conducts major church growth conference
    • Opening of Herb Frey Memorial Food Pantry
    • Branch campuses join for City Wide Worship at Buffalo Convention Center

1990’s | A Decade of Renewal

Our hearts were filled with an overwhelming desire for a new move of the Holy Spirit in the 1990’s. For this church, it seemed to be interrupted by a very serious accident in the life of their Pastor, which resulted in a serious brain injury. It was during this time that a letter arrived from his good friend, Tommy Tenney, describing a visitation of God in Houston where God so moved that the pulpit itself was broken in two pieces. This amazing encounter in the ministry and life of his friend gave Pastor Reid a hunger for God he had never experienced before.

Then the miracle happened.  In the middle of the decade, a young pastor friend, Dennis Shearer attended the revival in Toronto and while experiencing the move of the Holy Spirit heard the voice of God say to him, “Move to Buffalo, serve and honor Pastor Reid”.  Following the voice of the Holy Spirit, he came to Buffalo, and on an amazing Sunday night with a very small crowd, Dennis Shearer preached his first sermon at The Tabernacle   It was the beginning of what today we call “The Renewal”.  The entire Reid family was touched by the Spirit of God and the Pastors daughter, Aimee Reid-Sych was touched by God, began to lead worship and minster the Word of God throughout America.

The 1990’s also gave birth to the mission motto of The Tabernacle, “One People, One Call, To Heal The Broken”.  To this day, this statement still describes the mission and passion of this church.

1994 birthed the first East Coast Leadership Conference with Robert Stearns.   It was at this conference that the two ministries of Eagles Wings and The Tabernacle began to intersect.

The decade is marked by the following events:

  • Renewal Meetings attract thousands
  • “One People, One Call” becomes the theme of The Tabernacle
  • First East Coast Leadership Conference with Eagles Wings

2000’s | A Church of His Presence

It has been about 100 years since Azusa Street. With hearts filled with expectation we entered the new millennium. We built our new World Prayer Center with a vision to see the church become a “House of Prayer”.

It was during this decade that the ministry of Delia Roman became an intregal part of our church body. From this pulpit she ministered and sang from her wheel chair almost every week.  It was here, during renewal, that God changed her life and a new expectation for healing came alive inside of her.   It was also in this house that she married her amazing husband, Bishop Levy Knox. Eventually, it was our own Delia, who received one of the greatest miracles in the history of the church, came out of a wheel chair where she was confined for almost 23 years and walked.

While the Renewal season of services changed, the spirit of renewal left an imprint on the worship experience at The Tabernacle and the lives of all who were touched. Worship and Arts continued to expand in it’s scope, the trust was now centered around the presence of God and the prophetic revelation He was bringing to the church.

3D Woman ministry was formed, launching a national ministry with Delia Knox and Aimee Reid-Sych. TCT Television network joined us and began producing the popular broadcast, 3D Woman.

The Holy Spirit was preparing a body of believers for transition of the Legacy, defining The Tabernacle for the next generation – An Apostolic Ministry.

The beginning of this new century is marked by the following events:

  • Covenant Network of Churches (COVnet) is established
  • Delia Roman Knox is healed and leaves her wheelchair
  • 3D Woman national ministry is launched
  • The presence of God defines us as an Apostolic ministry

2010’s | Legacy Secured

It is a time of looking back to remember the years of what God has done, yet of looking forward to all that God is going to do.

During the years of accelerated growth in the Tabernacle’s great history, we had a leadership team the moved in relationship to steward the move of God. Pastor Tommy Reid, David Bemis, Gordon Spiller, David Hernquist and Tom Rinn were the among the core members of this team. What was undefined then, is being re-defined today as the New Testament model of an Apostolic Team.

It is a decade when the successors to the fifty year ministry legacy of a leader, would receive the mantle of the former generation.

We now look forward to the leadership of a new Apostolic team of leaders. The mantle of the Bishop and Senior Leader roles are being passed. A true Apostolic son, Dr. Robert Stearns, assumes the role of Bishop/Senior Leader, and the role of the Senior Executive Pastor has been passed to Reverend James Ruddy. Bishop Reid became Bishop Emeritus of The Tabernacle, and still serves as Bishop of CovNet churches and ministries.  They, along with Pastor Aimee Reid-Sych, are together working toward the establishment of a full five-fold Apostolic ministry team to lead the Tabernacle in the next generation.

The decade is marked by the following events:

  • Reverend Robert Stearns becomes the new Bishop/Senior Leader
  • Reverend James Ruddy becomes the new Senior Executive Pastor
  • Bishop Tommy Reid becomes Bishop Emeritus of The Tabernacle
  • Bishop Tommy Reid publishes his new book, “How To Live Out of A Dream and begins a national tour to assist the church in learning to dream