Cung Thawng

God helped my family come to the United States as refugees from the Chin State in Burma. We resettled safely in Richmond in 2009. We had planned to move with my brother to Dallas, Texas.However, Rev. Eric Hasha and TeeMoo came to visit my apartment and invited to us to worship at Taberancle Baptist Church. We have been worshipping at Tabernacle ever since. The Pastor’s family and church members have warmly welcomed us and helped us make a home here.

I am very thankful to the church for their support. Thank you for caring for us. Now, we don’t want to move to another state because we don’t want to leave Tabernacle. This church has provided a safe place for us.

Cung Thawng, Deacon


Rev(s) Joanie & Jason Williams

Joanie and I consider the few years we were able to spend with you some of the richest of our lives.  You loved us during a very significant time in our faith development, our marriage, and our preparation for ministry with Hyaets.  You helped us learn how to be church as creative, authentic and faithful people.

So many of you guided and supported us both through Jason’s internship, our ordination and our discernment process as we developed and stepped out in faith to begin Hyaets.  We cannot begin to adequately thank you all.  Yet at this marker in your history, it seems appropriate to remind you that you mean a great deal to us.  We become teary-eyed when we reflect back upon our Tabernacle Home!

Just a few weeks from now will mark the seventh anniversary of our joint ordination at Tabernacle Baptist Church!  You continue to be a foundation and ground for us as we now walk our journey with Hyaets covenanting to inspire, enrich and embody community in the marginalized places of Charlotte, NC.  Thanks for showing us what authentic community can look like in the church!  Thanks for loving and understanding us when others, including our own families, did not understand us!  Thanks for remembering us over the past seven years as we have been on the incredible journey with God and neighbor to which you ordained us!

Today you continue to inspire us as we hear and read stories of your journey into deep relationships with brothers and sisters from across the globe who are finding refuge in your backyard.  Keep up the good and faithful work!  Continue to enrich the community in which you have been placed!  Never stop being the embodiment of loving, authentic, Christian community! We love you!


Joanie and Jason Williams

Jason and Joanie were ordained at Tabernacle on June 18, 2005 and are residential members of the Hyaets Community in Charlotte, NC.




I fell in love with the members of Tabernacle Baptist Church the first time I met them.  They made me feel at home which is significant in that I am so far away from my home. The people in this church family have exhibited God’s mercy and love to me. I am grateful for their presence in my life.

– Wint Wint Zaw

Rev. Anna Miller

The Tabernacle family welcomed our family with open arms, graced us with the space we needed to rest, breathe, grow, and hear from the Lord. From our first entrance, we knew we were at home among fellow travelers. Worship was a place alive with wonder, creativity, and beauty… God’s Spirit blessing the conglomeration of people, talents, styles, and gifts. My son was baptized and you celebrated.

You ordained me to go out from among you to serve and we celebrated together. The time shared there was life-changing, life-giving. Thank God for the beautiful people who have made up and are making up the church at Tabernacle, our family still.

Rev. Anna Perry Miller

Anna was ordained at Taberancle Baptist Church on November 1, 2009 and serves as Pastor at Richmond’s Westhunt Baptist Church. Dean Miller, Anna’s husband, serves as Disaster Relief and Virginia Missions Coordinator/Glocal Missions Team Member at the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.

Charles Pflugrath

What you probably know by now is that Tabernacle Baptist is a hidden church, an Edelweiss in the Fan.  You have to search for it, to find it yourself, to work with it, and as you do, this rare little church begins to look and feel and smell like a beautiful flower.  (I would like to say “sound” also, but flowers don’t make music like this one does.)  I came to Tabernacle after moving here from Fairfax, Virginia, where I attended an Episcopal church.  I visited several churches in the neighborhood and couldn’t find place to connect. Almost reluctantly, I attended Tabernacle, a church only a block away from where I live.

I will not forget that first service when I was certain that Sterling Severns, the almost humble minister dressed in ordinary business clothes, was speaking directly to me.  I attended again to see if this phenomenon would occur a second time, and it did.  From that point, I began attending the business meetings, the Wednesday night dinners and fellowship, Sunday school with the Welstead Class, and the choir, all major sources of joy to me.  I was baptized just a year ago.

I also found that it was easy to give some of my time (I am retired, so I’m cheap) to the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet as the door keeper, and they call on me to occasionally drive the Burmese kids and their families to Sunday services and Wednesday tutoring.  Tabernacle is a major part of my life, its members are my friends, and most importantly, I think that I am discovering what God wants me to do and Sterling still speaks directly to me.

– Chuck Pflugrath

Amanda Ashcraft

Even though I lived on Grove Avenue, just three blocks from Tabernacle, Sterling and Judy put no pressure on me to attend.  No pressure was needed.  I didn’t visit another church!  Tabernacle’s creativity, authenticity, and commitment to the neighborhood were both inspirational and formative to me as a young seminary student at BTSR.

Tabernacle instructed me with monthly supervision meetings by lay persons, challenged me with diverse neighborhood needs, and cared for me through meals, friendship, and space to learn.   It was Tabernacle who first introduced me to Metro Baptist Church, the church in New York City of which I am, 8 years later, a member.  Tabernacle taught me that “church” is most beautifully a diverse group of people who give, search, play, and love together.

Amanda Rae Hambrick Ashcraft

Amanda is the Director of Outreach Ministries at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, NY


Kristen Koger


I was first introduced to Tabernacle when I was working as a Bible Study Leader for Passport camps. Several of the students from the church were in my bible study group. Who knew that 3 years later I would end up at Tabernacle for worship. I started attending Tabernacle because several of my friends at BTSR worshipped here.

My first Sunday in Richmond, I just showed up for worship. I was instantly greeted by church members who were so excited that I was visiting. I continued to attend. After a few weeks, an opportunity to work with young children was made available. While I love people of all ages, infants through elementary school are definitely where it clicks for me. I hope to be a children’s minister once I complete my education at BTSR.

When Sterling asked if I would be interested in working with the preschool ages on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, I jumped at the chance. I love seeing how excited the children get for Godly Play on Wednesdays, and how the teachers on Sunday mornings are able to incorporate learning and play in a way that the children can relate to.

The goal of Tabernacle is that whenever there are children in the building that they will be learning about Christ in some way. I have seen this every week as I work with the children. Tabernacle is doing so many exciting things, and I am so proud to be a part of it.

Kristen Koger

Rev. Eric Hasha

I look back at all of the pictures taken during the time I was at Tabernacle and they give me warm feelings of people who genuinely poured into my life as a Christian and as one who was pursuing ministry. The way that members of Tabernacle loved my wife, Cristy and our daughter, Abi is a great testament to what God is doing in this church. We are thankful for the years we were able to experience at the church and we will always feel like we have a home to come back to, God willing.

Our fondest memories of our time at Tabernacle always include the wonderful extended family we found in the International families. The privilege of working alongside such faithful people has definitely shaped our roles as ministers and how we interact with people here. We know that God placed us in Richmond for the time that He did to mold us and give us a base from which to stand. Moving to Hawaii was not a decision that we made lightly, but we knew that God had equipped us to move forward, much in part due to the faith formation we received at Tabernacle. Tabernacle Baptist Church continues to inspire us as we do ministry here and we know we are forever impacted because of its role in our lives.

Rev. Eric Hasha

Eric was ordained at Tabernacle Baptist Church on April 25, 2010 and currently serves as Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults, University Avenue Baptist Church, Hawaii.



Art Wright

My wife and I attended Tabernacle Baptist Church for a couple of years before we decided to become members. But we felt like we were fully part of the family long before we became “official.” We kept coming back because of the people, meaningful worship, and ample opportunities to serve. The first time we visited, we immediately noticed was that the people there were genuine and hospitable. They welcomed us, and when we came back the next week, many of them remembered our names!

Worship every Sunday is an opportunity to offer our best back to God, and it truly feels authentic —it is never showy or done just to draw people in. It is also intergenerational and interracial. On any given Sunday people of all ages and ethnicities offer praise to God through music, scripture, and prayer. It feels a little bit like what I imagine Heaven might be like.

My wife and I have both found ways to serve through Tabernacle. There are numerous opportunities to serve there. But in many ways, a church should become a “springboard” toward service outside of the church building itself. A church does not exist for itself, but rather to equip its members to share God’s love in the broader community. Tabernacle embodies this sentiment. My wife and I are better prepared to share God’s love in our daily lives because we are a part of the community at Tabernacle Baptist Church.

-Art Wright, Affiliate Professor of New Testament at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond

Adella Watlington

First and foremost, the minister is often the primary reason people come to a church.  In this area we are extremely fortunate to have Rev. Sterling Severns, as his sermons are not only inspiring but most educational. There have been many a Sunday he has brought me to tears in the eloquent manner in which he delivers his message.The warmth of the members is infectious.  You are greeted by all with such genuine joy and warm affection.The exceptional extension of love and joy extended to our Burmese members is so appropriate, since we are intended to give our love and help to all people. The music is glorious and dimensional.  It is part of what lifts your spirit during the service. The Sunday School class is a joy in itself, and I gain much knowledge and inspiration from our learned leader, Bill Welstead. Last of all, I love donning myself in finery, since we love to get all dressed to go to “somewhere” special.

– Adella Watlington