In Johnston, King’s Tabernacle’s joyous ending to once-ugly story

Racist acrimony and obstacles over, King’s Tabernacle opens its doors – to everyone

capture3JOHNSTON, R.I. – A beautiful ending; a beautiful beginning. An uplifting message for contentious times.

This is how the Rev. Chris Abhulime, pastor of The King’s Tabernacle, describes his sentiments as he prepares to preside over the official opening of his Pentecostal church in a town where some residents once opposed him and his mostly African-American congregation.

The specter of racism, Abhulime says, has been replaced with heartfelt welcome.

“Everybody has come around,” the pastor says. “We’re friends. We’re brothers. We’re citizens. We’re Americans. It’s a very good story and all the municipalities and people should take note of what happened here.”

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What happened in 2015 was ugly: King’s Tabernacle, based in Providence, bought the 125-year-old Belknap Chapel, but the town refused to issue a permit to use the building.

Abhulime and others maintained that the refusal was based on the color of his and most of his congregants’ skin, and their case was bolstered by threats received and racist remarks made, including an anonymous letter that read, in part:

“The reason why the Revernd [sic] is having a difficult time in Johnston RI is obvious. … We don’t want any more worthless, drains on society, ill-mannered, disrespectful [N words] in this town. …”

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SOURCE: Providence Journal

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