HIRAM — Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hiram, under the leadership of Pastor Derek Berry, is making a significant impact upon Paulding County. The church is vibrant, dynamic, exciting, and pulsating with life – and staying ahead of the fast-paced growth of the area. In fact, the church has almost quadrupled in attendance in less than four years.
Paulding is one of the three fastest-growing counties in Metro Atlanta and Georgia. The county officials are preparing for future growth by constructing a $200 million water reservoir to serve future drinking water needs and a new $60 million county jail and sheriff’s complex to address future law enforcement needs.
Multiple road expansions and improvements are being considered to improve traffic flow. The school district is planning for future growth due to the influx of young families into the area.
Pastor Berry and Tabernacle Baptist are also preparing for the church’s growth and fully anticipate a grand and glorious future. The church is strategically located on top of a hill at 3454 Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway (Highway 278) in Hiram and can be seen for at least a mile away for those traveling west on the Parkway.
Berry, 34, is a strong biblical preacher, a gifted leader, and as personable as they come. He is greatly complemented by his wife, Megan, who is as effervescent and welcoming as any pastor’s wife in the Northern Hemisphere. It is obvious that she is intent on trying to greet every person in the worship center each Sunday before the service begins.
Derek seems to be the master of many attributes in his role as pastor. McKenna Van Dyke, her husband, and three children became a part of Tabernacle in 2016. McKenna explained, “Our pastor is a young man, but he has an old soul and we love that about him.”
Mike Lemming, known for his decades-long background in Gospel music, and his wife, Doris, are also members of Tabernacle. Mike almost echoed McKenna’s observation about Derek when he likened him to the late evangelist Maze Jackson who always started his radio program with the words, “You are about to hear a young man with an old message.”
McKenna, who came from an Amish background and first began to learn about the Lord in a home church setting, stated, “We came to this area looking for a church where our family could grow in the Lord and we visited many Baptist churches that were good, but once we visited Tabernacle we never turned back. We know God wanted us under Derek’s ministry.
“In his preaching he does not try to make you feel better about your sins. He does not twist or change the Word of God. We do not hear sugarcoated or whipped cream sermons from him, and he is not afraid of offending people with the truth. His greatest goal is to see souls saved. He just wants to see all of us inside the pearly gates.”
McKenna also had accolades for the children’s minister, Jonathan Brown. “He really knows how to relate to children. All three of our children have been baptized since we have been at Tabernacle. I will wholeheartedly stand up in appreciation for our pastor and staff.”
The demographics at Tabernacle are impressive, because it is both ethnically and generationally diverse. Lemming stated, “We wanted to be a part of a local assembly. We looked and looked for a place near our home. We went to churches with both old and new styles of worship and we heard some good preachers, but the blended worship spoke to our hearts.
“I am not as mobile as I was in years gone by and Tabernacle provides easy access into the church building. But most of all the Holy Spirit made us feel welcome. I couldn’t be more positive about the church. Derek is an extremely good preacher. His content and delivery are always excellent. I couldn’t be more thrilled with Derek and Megan. Doris and I are excited about our church and we love being a part of Tabernacle.”
When Derek became the pastor of the church in November 2014 the average worship attendance was approximately 60, but now the worship attendance is in the 250 range. The church had 337 in worship for Easter Sunday.
The Tabernacle Pastor reads everything he can about leadership and is effectively employing the principles he is learning. He explained, “Shortly after coming to Tabernacle I began to set forth a plan for the church based around three concepts: reorganize, refocus, and reenergize.
“I knew that the first thing we had to do was reorganize, because there was no structure in place, no unified budget, no sense of direction. I began to preach about having a vision and the need for reorganization in order to fulfill our vision.”
Berry continued, “The second step toward reaching our objectives was the need to refocus our priorities. So we developed our mission statement: Discover the Sinner (seek out the lost), Disciple the Saint (get our congregation involved in small groups), and Deploy the Servant (sending the discipled into the world to serve the Lord as pastors, missionaries, surrendered laity).
“The last command of Christ should be our highest priority; every facet of church activity should in some way relate to the Great Commission. Acts 5:42 records that the Jerusalem church was indeed fulfilling this purpose. ‘And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.’ This young church was constantly engaged in making the Gospel known to the world.
“The third step is re-energize. We dare not do anything for the Lord in our own strength. We must serve him in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Pastor Berry and his leadership team are always planning random acts of love to reach out to the lost and unchurched. On July 7 the church is planning a huge patriotic fireworks display on their campus. A fireworks professional will facilitate the event and the church expects to draw hundreds, if not thousands, of people to the church to enjoy the evening.
Last December the church had a booth at the Hiram Christmas tree lighting where they dispensed over 800 cups of coffee and sweet treats to demonstrate their love for the community.
Additionally, there are members of the church that periodically give out bottles of water including invitations to the church at the Silver Comet Trail. The church hosts a Fall Festival each October. On Easter the church hosted a “glow in the dark” Easter egg hunt with hundreds of children seeking thousands of eggs.
The church ministers to Baggett Elementary School as “A Partner in Education” by providing backpacks and food to children of struggling families. During Thanksgiving the church gave away over 80 turkeys to needy families.
Derek is building significant relationships at Hiram High School as the chaplain of the Hiram Hornets football and baseball teams.
Pastor Berry has led the church to become a giving church and in addition to substantially increasing unified budget giving has led the church to make significant improvements to the church property and pay cash for each new renovation.
As a mission-minded pastor, Berry has led the church to increase its missions giving from $50 a month in 2014 to $20,000 in 2018 with a significant amount going to the Cooperative Program. He is becoming involved in the life of the denomination and currently serves as the vice moderator of West Metro Baptist Association.
Keep an eye of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hiram and Pastor Derek Berry. This fellowship is becoming a thriving colony of heaven in Paulding County.