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Bishop Starnes Celebrates with Greater Warner Tabernacle On Its 175th Church Anniversary


KNOXVILLE, TN – The Greater Warner Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church, Knoxville, Tennessee, celebrated its 175th Anniversary March 7th – March 11, 2020. In the words of the Greater Warner pastor, Rev. Dr. Cleo A. Brooks, Jr., “I cannot help but reflect on the great history of this church and the historic role it has played in the Knoxville area and as a stop on the Underground Railroad. For Greater has come to Greater Warner.”

The Greater Warner Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church takes her place as the oldest African American Church in the city of Knoxville, and ranks as one of the oldest in East Tennessee. Organized in 1845, the dramatic, yet humble beginning of this church dates back as far as the days of slavery. As part of its rich history, the church served as a “stop” on the Underground Railroad. It was during this period that slaves were transported from North Carolina, Virginia, and surrounding states to River Road, now Riverside Drive., through the Eastport Section of the city.

The theme of the Anniversary “Rooted In History: Steadfast and Unmovable”, is a true display of what God will do for the devoted and faithful. Greater Warner is a church that has been led by God in its relationship building, service to the community and its commitment to pour into the lives of others.

The 175th Anniversary Celebration is another part of the history book of the work and life of Greater Warner. The week kicked off on March 7, 2020, with a Food Give-Away, at the Fairgarden School Community Center. Over 300 families were impacted with food basket, coordinated by the Burlington Food Pantry ministry that is housed in the church. The food give-away had partnerships with, Second Harvest Food Bank, sororities, fraternies, neighborhood churches and other community groups. Additionally, a Block Party was organized by the Greater Warner Christian Education Department in the church parking lots. The entire community joined in with entertainment, foods, games, bible activities, face painting and much more.

The March 8, 2020, Sunday church services included morning worship, with Dr. Rev. Cleo A. Brooks, who brought the message. A fellowship dinner followed immediately after church. The dinner brought back the young and the old, families and community at large. It was a celebration feast of unity, togetherness and celebration of the long history of this strong, unmovable and steadfast church of God. After a wonderful fellowship meal, a mini-concert entertained those staying for the afternoon service. The concert featured the New Travelers, gospel group and the beautiful voices of local gospel artist.

The afternoon services began with greeting by elected officials, including Knox County Mayor Glen Jacobs and the City of Knoxville, Vice Mayor Gwen McKinnize, a member of Greater Warner. Both presented the church with a proclamation and declared March 8, 2020 as “Greater Warner Day.” The blessing of the day was reached with a stirring message for the Right Reverend Darryl A. Starnes, Sr., Presiding Prelate, Tennessee Conference, Mid-West Episcopal District and a former pastor of Greater Warner. Bishop Starnes stated in his letter to the church, “To God be the Glory! We applaud all of the pastors, ministers, officers, workers, members and friends who have served in this church through the years. They all have helped Greater Warner Tabernacle AME Zion Church to make disciples for Christ, while meeting its local, district, conference, episcopal district, and connectional obligations. We praise God, who has supplied your needs, who has answered your prayers, and who has enabled you to meet your challenges and to make the most of your opportunities.”

As the celebration continued, it prepared for a three-day power packed revival to be led by another former pastor of Greater Warner, the Rev. Dr. Eric Leake, Pastor, Martin Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, Chicago, Ill. Rev. Leake gave a three part message taken from Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The three promises Rev. Leake focused on for the three night revival are true examples of where God has led Greater Warner for the past 175 years. God promised, “I am with you.” God has been with Greater Warner, throughout its relocations from Fuller Street, to Speedway Circle and now at 3800 Martin Luther King Jr., Ave., Knoxville, TN. God promised to “strengthen” Greater Warner. And, God has done just that, through the growth of the church, its strong ministries that help and provide services to the community every day of the week; and the last promise “I will uphold you.” God has given Greater Warner favor for the past 175 years. He has restored the church’s physical structure, built ministries that are sustainable and re-engined disciple building that will last for another 100 years. The church has been commissioned to do more work until it is finished. As the current pastor of Greater Warner, Rev. Cleo Brooks, stated, “Greater Has Come to Greater Warner.” The 175th Anniversary celebration will go down in history as a celebration with fulfilled “promises.”

For additional information contact the church: 3800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Knoxville, TN 37914; Ph: 865-524-8040; Email: greaterwarner@comcast.net


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