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McDonough church focused on community bonds

By Johnny Jackson

Members of the Tabernacle of Praise Church International hope to cement its place in the community through increased local involvement.

"We try to promote unity in our community and we encourage everyone to invite their friends, family, and co-workers to the church," said Timothy "T.J." McBride, 35, pastor of Tabernacle of Praise.

McBride ministers at the McDonough church with his wife and co-pastor, Shunnae, also 35. The couple started the church in June 2005, and it has grown to more than 400 members.

On Sunday, T.J. McBride hopes to minister to a full house of congregates during the church's Family and Friends Day Celebration, which begins at 10 a.m.

He said he and his wife were ordained as ministers in June 2001, at Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in their native Oakland, Calif.

"It was just a call from God," said T.J. McBride. "We were praying about what direction God wanted us to go in, and we moved to Atlanta [in 2003]."

T.J. McBride served as music director at Divine Faith Ministries International in Jonesboro, until the couple started Tabernacle of Praise a couple of years later. The new church began as a Wednesday-night Bible study in their home and now meets at facilities near downtown McDonough, at 96 South Zack Hinton Parkway.

"Our aim is to promote the gospel of Christ through love and community involvement," said T.J. McBride. "Everyone needs to be encouraged now days, so it's a good place to be."

The church's Family and Friends Day "will be a really nice atmosphere, where we acknowledge families," said Crystal Green, youth director at the church.

Green joined Tabernacle of Praise in April 2006, after she moved to McDonough from Long Island, N.Y., during the summer of 2005.

"I had walked in off the street on a Sunday," Green said. "I was looking for a church home, and I saw that one. I went in, and I think I joined two Sundays after that.

"The way they [the pastors] taught in their praise and worship, it was so understandable," she continued. "It was so understandable that a child could understand it, but it was so powerful at the same time. And they weren't untouchable like some pastors are."

Green also credits the church's rapid growth to its focus on community and family.

Tabernacle of Praise's auxiliary ministries include counseling, children's church and some teen events. The church also provides information on health care, job training and financial counseling.

Church member, Jewel Miles, described the church as a place "where every member of the family has a support network to assist them in their physical and spiritual walk."