As it prepares to celebrate 120 years of service to the community, historic Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church once again will write history as it breaks ground at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, on its U.B. Kinsey Education and Community Center on property it owns across from the church at 801 8th St. in West Palm Beach’s Northwest neighborhood. The event is open to the public; please RSVP by Aug. 15 to (561) 671-1954.
A $2 million increase in a previously announced gift from North Palm Beach residents Jeff and Lynda Jacobs will allow construction to begin immediately on the 10,000-square-foot, two-story building, which will house after-school youth tutorial programs, mentoring programs and senior programs. It also will serve as a hub for the distribution of information about community services, health, finances and care for the elderly. The total cost of the project is estimated to be approximately $5 million. The project is expected to be complete in late 2014. Construction will be undertaken by D&D Constantakos, Inc., based in Jupiter, Fla.
The design, which will be compatible with that of the church, will feature a lighted dome. “It’s a great symbol of light coming into places that were dark. And the darkness that is here exists in a neighborhood that has been neglected and suffered so much social disintegration,” said the Rev. Gerald D. Kisner, the church’s pastor.
“Hopefully we can be a tool that can bring about a transformation that will allow all people to reach their full, God-given potential.”
The center replaces the former Tabernacle Learning Center, a converted shotgun house that was demolished on Feb. 12, 2008. Popular with neighborhood youth, the learning center had outgrown the structure, which had been donated by a church member.
The year after the demolition, the church held a dedication service on the property in preparation for the new education and community center, which by then had been in the pipeline for several years. However, fund-raising languished during the economic downturn, and the project remained on hold.
The Jacobs’ generosity finally has allowed the vision to move forward, Rev. Kisner said, noting that the project has been a team effort.
“It has been a long time coming, but as a passage in the book of Isaiah says, 1,000 years is but a day in the sight of God,” Rev. Kisner said.
The center will be named in honor of the late U.B. Kinsey, a prominent local educator who was a member of the church. A nearby public elementary school also bears his name.
In addition to this project, the church’s development arm, TAB Development Inc., was responsible for the construction of 53 single-family homes and a playground located in the Northwest community.