our history

The Beginning

Mount Tabor United Presbyterian Church was organized September 7, 1867. For back titles see deed from
Michael Filhour (Philhour) to Charles Cowan and other trustees of Mount Tabor Colored Presbyterian Church,
recorded in deed book 43, page 506, Rowan County. See deed from L. A. Rostain and wife to R. D. Falls and
other trustees of Mount Tabor Colored Presbyterian Church, dated July 24, 1900 recorded in deed book page
88, 341, Rowan County registry. Mount Tabor trustee bought other land from Earl and wife Odenia Rankin
listed in Rowan County Registry.

Mount Tabor United Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest colored churches west of Yadkin. It was
organized around 1866 in the remote area of western Rowan County. It is about three-fourth miles east of the
Iredell County line, in the Mount Ulla township, in Cleveland, North Carolina. It is about fourteen miles west of
Salisbury, North Carolina between Amity Hill Road and Highway 150 at the junction of Mount Tabor and
Childers Road.

The first church was organized by a group of newly freed slaves, namely: Charles Cowan, Samuel Ramsey,
Robert Foster, Cornelius Rankin, Pink Rankin, all from Rowan County. S.S. Kirkland, Calvin Goodman, J.E.
Stevenson and Thomas Cowan from Iredell County.


The first building, a log cabin was erected on the east side of the cemetery. The organizing minister was
Reverend Amos Billingsley. There were approximately 50 faithful members.


Reverend Brown was called and became pastor.


Reverend William Bryant became pastor.


Reverend J. L. Hollowell became pastor and a new and improved building was erected.


Additional land was bought on July 24, and a new board structure was built near the dirt road. The
building was much larger. During these years, according to legend, the flock was led by the Reverend
Brown, who stayed for only a short period.

John H. Cowan was the community school teacher. Sylvester Brown, Calvin Goodman and John H.
Cowan helped the young people to enter in the field of teaching and preaching. Other laymen were C. H.
Cowan, Sr., and William Cowan.


Remodeled the inside of the church and built a choir stand.


Reverend C. A. Washington became pastor.

The old building was brick-sided, a Fellowship Hall was built, and electricity was installed.

Vacation Bible School attendance reached 200.

A baseball club was formed.
Reverend Washington’s tenure was terminated by his death in 1956.


Reverend John E. McKenzie became pastor.

The Fellowship Hall was remodeled.

The following committee launched a building program: Russell A. Cowan (Chairperson) George A.
Goodman (Co-Chairperson), Clyde W. Cowan, Millard F. Cowan, Beatrice C. Stevenson, Onevva Heaggans,
and Oscar L. Patterson, Sr.

Mrs. Beatrice C. Stevenson was recognized as teacher of the year for R. A. Clement School in 1968.


During the leadership of Reverend John E. McKenzie, our present sanctuary was completed with kitchen
and educational rooms. Through the efforts of the late Dr. Donald Stewart and Kirkland Presbyterian
Church of Missouri, a donation of $10,000 was given toward the building of the new sanctuary. Dr. J. T.
Peterson was the speaker for the dedication service.


Dr. J. T. Douglas became moderator and supply pastor. The parking area and the road to cemetery was
paved. The Mount Tabor sign was erected.

Mrs. Frances C. Cowan was recognized as teacher of the year in 1973 for Rowan County Schools.


Reverend Earl E. Newberry was installed as pastor (July 27, 1975). Sermon was delivered by Reverend
Joe L. Spears.

UPW Culture Outreach program was organized to tutor the children and youth to appreciate culture.

The Young Ladies organization was organized under direction of Mrs. Inez P. Newberry.

The Cathedral Choir was organized.

In 1981, the 60th Marriage Anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. O. L. Patterson, Sr., was performed by J. L. Spears.
Elder Clyde Cowan entered the seminary in preparation for the ministry.

The Sylvester Brown Library was set up in September 17, 1983. The library books, games, tapes, puzzles
and a computer were donated by Mrs. Merle Brown McRae and Family.

The mortgage was burned on the sanctuary.
Reverend Earl E. Newberry’s tenure was terminated by death in October of 1983.


Reverend Joe L. Spears was installed pastor (September 1984). A new tract of land, adjoining the existing
property was purchased.


The congregation voted to build a new Fellowship Center. The Building Committee members were:
Howard C. Taggert (Chair), Richard Heaggans (Co-Chair), Ethel Baity, Roy L. Carruth, Margaret Rankin,
Rita Taggert and Charlie Rankin.


An Endowment Fund, invested with the Presbyterian Foundation, was established.

1992- 1997

The Fellowship Center was completed and was dedicated in November, 1992 by Reverend John Handley,
Executive from Salem Presbytery, Mt. Carmel Lodge #37 of Statesville and Price Lodge of Mooresville;
Reverend Handley laid the cornerstone. Mt. Tabor joined with four other historically black, Presbyterian
Churches and formed “The Freedom Ministry.”

A frame was constructed on the rear of the Old Fellowship Hall and a new roof was added.

The Grounds and Cemetery Fund was established by Sam Edminston in the memory of James Haston Wilson.

The Men’s Choir was organized.

The gazebo was renovated.

New office equipment was purchased.

Seven new members joined.


A steeple was erected atop the sanctuary.

The children’s classroom was re-decorated.

Children’s Worship Service began.

The renovation of the Old Fellowship Hall was continued.

Two new members joined.
One affiliate member was gained.

Lizzie P. Barber was recognized as teacher of the year for Wayside Elementary School.


Mt. Tabor joined in the celebration of the 100th birthday for Mrs. Mae Jane Knox (September 16, 2000).

The Patterson Family donated and dedicated a new Lectern with sound in memory of their mother, Mrs.
Nellie M. Patterson.

An electronic sound system was installed in the sanctuary.
The church parking lot was paved and marked with parking spaces.

After 18 years, Reverend Joe L. Spears was Honorably Retired (October 2001).

12 new members joined
One affiliate member was gained.

2002 Dr. Stephen Moss became the moderator and liaison for the Pastor Nominating

The PNC began searching the USA for a God sent pastor.
Mt. Tabor’s faith in God, and hope for the future was tested during this time without a pastor.

Finally, God answered our prayers. God is good.

One new member joined.

2003- 2004

Reverend Jeffrey Aaron Smith was called and installed as pastor (August 2003).

Sermon by the Reverend James E. Bell of Cedar Rapids, NE

A Senior Breakfast Club was formed.

The first Pictorial Directory for Mount Tabor was printed.

The Old Fellowship Hall was renovated.

Grave Site restructuring and updates have begun.


At the end of December 2010, the breezeway construction was completed as well as the new roof on the
sanctuary. We gained three cousins, Lauren Knox, Christian Little, and Kendall Hosch to the

Two baptism.

One marriage was apart the morning service.

A Mission study was conducted in February and as a result a mission statement was developed to define
the goals and objectives of our congregation. Officer’s training was given to all new officers. New
financial software was installed for recordkeeping. Directional signs were installed on each building as
well on the grounds of the church.

The interim pastor, George C. Goodman, attended the Big Tent in August in Indianapolis, Indiana. He
serves as a vocation faculty member, on one of three, CREDO (Clergy Reflection Education Discernment
Opportunity) teams sponsored by the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

We are delighted to have the first Eagle Scout in the Mount Tabor church family. Tre Reid with Troop
#174 from Troutman has achieved the highest level of the Boy Scouts of America. In order to achieve the
merit of Eagle Scout, Tre acquired the necessary contributions from family, friends, and Mount Tabor to
complete the installation of two flag poles and the landscaping around them located in front yard of the
church. Tre completed his project and received the honor on September 3.

The first breast cancer awareness program was given in October 2011. Survivors in attendance were Ruth
R. Rankin, Sandra Crump and Mildred Patterson.

2013 On July 1, 2013 the Reverend Eulando Henton became Pastor of Mount Tabor. He is a 1993 graduate of
Bethel College with a degree in Religious Studies and Christian Education. He is also a 1996 graduate of
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky where he received a Master of
Divinity Degree. Pastor Henton and his wife, Hyun, lives in Charlotte and have a son, Matthew.


Reverend Eulando Henton offered his resignation after 3½ years of service in January 2017.

God blessed us with Reverend Timothy Porter as interim pastor in April 2017. As we move forward, we
will continue to be the ”Church that Prays Together, Stays Together” and will be “The Help and Hope of
Jesus to Hurting People” in the surrounding communities.


One of our very own, Elder Tina Cowan, entered the Hood Theological Seminary in August 2018. A new
roof was installed on the Fellowship Center. We gained a new member.

According to Matthew 16: 18, Mount Tabor is a church that Christ built and the gates of hell will not
prevail against it. As we move forward, we will be a fully committed church to the future for years to


A projection system was installed in the sanctuary to enhance worship services for all who come to lift up
the name of the Lord. Under the leadership of Rev. Timothy Porter, he gives very inspiring messages that
propels the church to grow stronger and deeper into God’s word. Also, the weekly attendance continues
to grow.

According to Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…they shall run and
not be weary…” Mount Tabor, through God’s grace, has moved across three centuries of service and looks
forward to the future.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, church facilities were closed. Rev. Timothy Porter led weekly worship
service via the church’s Youtube channel.

  • Reopening after COVID within the church
  • creation of COVID task force team
  • creation of communications committee
  • prayer team every Monday-Friday and Sunday mornings
  • installation of cameras and new laptop for recording of services
  • replacement of gas to electric furnace in Sanctuary and fellowship hall
  • no spread of COVID within the church
  • 1st Annual Angel Walk was a success
  • over 120 food boxes distributed
  • adoption of homeless Christmas family (providing clothes, shoes, and toys for 4 children)
  • 5,334 total views on our Youtube channel (where worship service recordings are displayed)
  • 17 new subscribers to our Youtube channel