Greater Warner Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church has served for 175 years. Photo by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — It has been a beacon of hope since it was part of the Underground Railroad. It has been referred to as the “freedom church”and was part of the abolitionist movement. For over 175 years this community church, as it was initially known, has provided a place to worship God and educate, empower, and uplift.

This week amid a flood of activities, speakers, block parties, and ceremonies; that walk of faith and servant hood will be celebrated.

Greater Warner Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church has a proud history. Each initial means something: African Methodist Episcopal Zion. African indicates the church is governed by people of African descent. Methodist doctrine has significant structure and accountability. Episcopal is the form of government adopted by the church and includes Bishops and Elders and Zion, represents the Church of God in scripture.

Staying true to their original mission of being an central part of the community; the church, which is the oldest African American church in Knoxville; currently hosts many ministries that include: a food pantry, AA support group, East Knox Free Medical Clinic, A dance studio, computer labs, and game rooms. They are also the gathering point for  major city events such as the Annual MLK Celebrations, Knoxville Urban Leagues National Achievers Ceremonies,and the Knoxville Opera Goes to Church Events. 

As they move toward into the future, the church, under the leadership of Reverend Dr. Cleo Brooks Jr., has a goal  to restore the original sanctuary and create a Burlington Community Center to serve those who are economically challenged.n Once the sanctuary is restored it will become a mixed use facility and will offer the community bible study areas, mentoring programs, youth services, GED/HISET programs and other certificate based programs, referral services, healthy neighborhood initiatives, and other mixed use programs for events and community meetings.

Greater Warner Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion continues to build their legacy in the Burlington community, with a their motto:”Where We Live, Work, Worship, and Play.”