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Now & Then
A Baptist Legacy
Tabernacle Baptist held its last service in the old 1903 Capitol Hill sanctuary in 1974. This view of it looks east on Harrison Street across 15th Avenue Northeast. The modern structures that replaced the church include a bagel shop where Thomas Ruhlman, TAB's pastor since 1980, often meets with members who retain connections with Capitol Hill.

spacer Photo PAUL DORPAT
FOR ITS 1996 centennial celebration, Tabernacle Baptist Church, or "TAB" as its members call it, published a church history replete with pictures, descriptions of its several moves and the dramatic story of its origins.

The TAB began in conflict. A protesting minority of members left First Baptist Church after the freshly ordained Bostonian Pastor S.C. Ohrum failed by a few votes to win approval to keep him beyond a six-month trial at the "mother" church. The dissenters formed Tabernacle Baptist in 1896 and hired Ohrum as their first pastor. Their formidable leader, Judge Roger Sherman Green, was the chief judicial officer of Washington Territory for years. For a short while the new church hoped to challenge the old as Seattle's "but one central Baptist Church," to quote Green. The lure of affordable land on top of the then-booming residential Capitol Hill proved more attractive, however, than old protests.

On Sept. 21, 1902, Sunday-school children paraded from the TAB's temporary hall at 11th Avenue and Jefferson Street to the southeast corner of 15th Avenue Northeast and Harrison Street, where the congregation would stay for three-quarters of a century. Soon after the TAB's present senior pastor Thomas Ruhlman answered the call in 1980, his congregation moved from temporary quarters at 15th Avenue Northeast and 92nd Street to join North Seattle Baptist in Shoreline.

This view of the Capitol Hill sanctuary was photographed about 1914, when parishioners briefly entertained relocating their church downtown. But they stayed on 15th and spread — adding first seating and then an educational wing to the 1903 sanctuary.

Vol. 1 and Vol. 3 of Paul Dorpat's books, "Seattle Now & Then," are $19.95 each from Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.

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