While we are uncertain of the date that the Atlantic City Tabernacle was established, excerpts of the minutes of the 1902 District Assembly in Philadelphia, PA list Elder S.W. Ransfield of Atlantic City, NJ as one of the delegation of ministers from different points. St. Maythelia “Mae” Holden Symes stated that Elder Charles Flippens was the local pastor of Atlantic City tabernacle from 1913 to 1917. Elder Flippens traveled from Williamsport, PA to Atlantic City to replace Elder John Dinzey as the local pastor.
On one occasion, Elder Flippens wanted to have immersion in the area of Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk, but he was not allowed to do so. The situation caused Elder Flippens to prophesy against the city. He shook the dust off his feet and about a week later a great flood hit Atlantic City. St. Mae Symes said the waters came back as far as Adriatic Avenue.
Around 1914, St. Emma Valley Harris came to Atlantic City during Elder Flippens’ pastorate. Because she had suffered many illnesses from her childhood, Chief Executive Bishop William H. Plummer, told her to go to the shore and her health would be better. She followed his advice and remained in Atlantic City for the rest of her life.
During Rabbi Howard Z. Plummer’s reign as Chief Rabbi, he came to Atlantic City and made St. Emma Valley Harris a Sister Elder. He appointed her the local pastor. Then-Elder Jehu A. Crowdy, Sr. would come over from Philadelphia and immerse those who joined under S.E. Harris’ ministry, and at that time, Bro. William Crowdy would put on the whole armor.
In 1945, S.E. Harris sent for her sister, St. Nettie Mae McLaughlin Lofton to come to Atlantic City. St. Nettie Mae traveled by train with eight of her 10 children. She was later appointed Sister Elder by Elder Thomas. In 1965, St. John Albert Lofton relocated from Belleville, VA to Atlantic City to be with his wife, St. Nettie Mae, and they remained here until they fell asleep, two days apart in November of 1973.
On Aug. 5, 1960, Rabbi Howard Z. Plummer appointed St. Mary Elizabeth Burton, daughter of S.E. Harris, Overseer-in-Charge of Atlantic City. S.E. Harris continued to work arduously for the Lord until she fell asleep in 1970.
Around 1967, Elder Harry N. Wilson was appointed the local pastor of Atlantic City. He was responsible for buying the church at 505 Madison Avenue. Around 1973, Elder Moses Farrar was appointed the local pastor. He started the Young People’s Improvement League (YPIL) in Atlantic City and the building fund, which raised funds from annual choir concerts at Atlantic City High School. Many members and friends came from all over to support the concerts. In 1976, Elder Farrar was transferred to Brooklyn Tabernacle. Afterwards, different ministers and a brother were sent to maintain the tabernacle.
Around 1981, the members were directed to travel to Philadelphia for services. Rabbi Jehu A. Crowdy, Sr., served as local pastor of both Philadelphia and Atlantic City. From 1986 to 1988, Elder Howard Saunders Fisher was appointed the local pastor, which allowed the members to return to Atlantic City for services. Elder Fisher donated the use of his property at 913 Arctic Avenue, free of charge, so the members could assemble together.
In 1988, Elder Benjamin Radcliffe Keeling was appointed local pastor, re-instituting the annual choir concerts and helping to energize the congregation around a shared vision of community outreach. Under his guidance, the tabernacle provided Thanksgiving baskets each year to community members who were less fortunate.
Since August of 2016, Elder Solomon David Leach has served as local pastor. A native of Philadelphia, Elder Leach has continued to reinforce the importance of service to the community, fellowship and unity.