Ground broken for Old Testament Tabernacle project

David Broyles Staff Reporter

December 3, 2013

Beachnut Family Campground owner Todd Tolbert and a variety of volunteers from a numer of churches broke ground Monday morning on an a project to construct a full-size replica of the Tabernacle carried by Moses and the Israelite as described in the Old Testament book of Exodus.

Tolbert opened the ceremony by thanking all those attending for being there. He also explained how the project came about.

“The short version is that a year ago this past April, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was 48 years old then. I didn’t know if I would live or die,” said Tolbert. “I prayed on what God would have me and my family to do. I was not set up for it. I was not ready to go.”

He talked about how Psalm 118 was “pressed on his heart” and particularly verse 17 which says “I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord.” Tolbert told the group surgery to remove a tumor went well and physicians were surprised to find no other cancer in areas where tests indicated positive for the disease.

“God held up his part,” said Tolbert. He explained one day, as her returned to what will be the site of the Tabernacle, which was his “sacred spot” to pray as he read his Bible and had lunch daily, his attention was drawn to Exodus and its stories of the tribes of Israel camping around the Tabernacle. After adding the numbers in the account on the various sides of the structure he drew them on a piece of the paper. He said it formed a cross.

“The Tabernacle points to Calvary,” Tolbert said. “I about came unglued. I faced the East with the sun coming up and thought what if we had a Tabernacle in Mount Airy.” He said the structure would be open, free of charge for the public and groups to see. His excitement was tempered by the realization he knew very little about the historic structure.

Tolbert shortly found an answer was about 30 miles away when fellow volunteer Pastor Tim Gammons of Woodland Baptist Church in Winston-Salem connected him with noted Tabernacle scholar Dr. John Moxley who attends Gammons’ church. The 86-year old Moxley has authored numerous books on the subject and has toured churches for 30 years as well as creating replicas of the biblical tabernacle.

“I don’t know know how or when this will be finished. It’s going to be all God. I just want to lift up the Lord,” said Tolbert. “It may go fast or it may not but we’re just going to keep offering it up to the Lord.” He said he also hopes the tabernacle will eventually become the centerpiece of a youth center camp where they can camp out around the structure similar to the tribes of Israel as well as being available for revivals and Bible and mission conferences.

Pastor Chris Pethel of Corrier Heights Baptist Church in China Grove gave the devotional at the ceremony. He said God has a pattern for everything.

“I don’t believe there’s a pastor that doesn’t believe God has a pattern for the church,” said Pethel. “If we stick with the pattern, God will bless it. God gives us people special talents to do things.” He stressed the importance of Christians staying with patterns set forth in the Bible and said ignoring this has caused a loss in the power of God in churches nationally.

The group joined with Tolbert in walking around an area in the shape of a cross which he had set out in the field adjoining the site after Tolbert said the project in some ways was a “wall” for him, but Christians walking and praying around the area would make the walls tumble down like those of the biblical city of Jericho.

Rev. Kenny Heath of Faith Baptist church and Music Minister Mike East will serve as grading contractors for the project. Other churches on the contact list for the project include Glory Light Baptist of Siloam, True Way Baptist Church of Pilot Mountain, Oak Hill Baptist of Walkertown, Maple springs Baptist Church in Elkin, New Testament Baptist Church in King, Bible Baptist Church in Galax and Buffalo Baptist Church of Ohio.

Other volunteers for the project include Rev. Scotty Bullins, Dennis Bullins, Lloyd Davis, Don Charles, Bill Higgins, Dennis Inman, Boyce Shore, Everett Brown, Lloyd Noah, Wayne Shumate, Leo King, Harvey Tharington, Sam Eaton, Billy Wadell and Gary Everhart.

Reach David Broyles at or 336-719-1952.