Organized in 1887, Emmanuel Baptist Church has been a place of worship for 132 years, touching the lives of many. Emmanuel stands as a testament to the faith, hope and love that is found through Jesus Christ. Emmanuel is an affiliate of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., the National Capital Baptist Convention of Washington, DC and Vicinity, the Potomac River Baptist Association, the American Baptist Churches of the South, and the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention.
The Early Years
The Emmanuel Baptist Church was organized in 1887 by Reverend Jesse A. Taylor, Georgiane Harrison, Geneva Taylor, and five other persons. Until a permanent structure could be built on the present site, the members worshipped within various homes. In 1893, a brick building was erected. Reverend Taylor remained in leadership until his death in 1922. From that time until 1930, three men served as interim pastors: Reverend Willis Coleman, Reverend J.S. Miller and Reverend Emmitt Starks. In 1931, Reverend Claggett W. Ward was called as the pastor of Emmanuel. Under his leadership various congregational organizations and choirs were developed. In the 1940’s a program was started to procure surrounding property to accommodate growth and to foster vision of ministry. In September 1959, groundbreaking services were held. The Mortgage Retirement service was held on August 6, 1972. Through his efforts, Emmanuel joined with the Allen A.M.E. Church and the Young’s Memorial Church of Christ Holiness in holding the first joint Thanksgiving service which continues to the present. Reverend Ward entered into eternal rest on March 26, 1974.
Continuing The Vision
Reverend Willie J. Mason was called as pastor in May 1975. Under his leadership church growth continued. Several programs and Annual Day celebrations were instituted. Emmanuel celebrated its first Church Anniversary, the 90th. Land was purchased to facilitate building expansion and an Education Center. Reverend Mason’s pastorate ended in 1984.
Over the years, Emmanuel continued to be blessed tremendously. In 1986, Emmanuel installed Reverend Clinton W. Austin as pastor. With the completion of Emmanuel’s Education Center, the pastor and congregation set forth new goals and objectives to develop ministries that would specifically address the needs of the changing community. The ministries grew in the areas of religious and secular education, health awareness, and outreach ministry services. Emmanuel operates an after-school program, Project Spirit and a Summer Camp that serves primarily neighborhood children. In coordination with the American Baptist Churches of the South, five mission trips to Zambia were taken providing training and inspiration to our brothers and sisters in South Central Africa. Emmanuel is a member of the Church Association for Community Service and the Collective Cooperative Banking Group.
Emmanuel has undertaken bold initiatives and has seen them to fruition. In 1993 the church adopted the theme, “Come Grow With Us and Establish a Blessed Family.”
The 21st Century
Under the leadership of Pastor Austin, the Ainger Place Development Corporation (the non-profit economic development component of the church) was established and plans were initiated to replace our current 24 unit apartment building on Ainger Place with a modern 72 unit affordable housing structure. We entered into partnership with the Michaels Organization, architectural plans were drawn and financing was secured from several sources (including $10 million dollars from the D.C. government).
After thirty years of faithful and dedicated service, Pastor Austin retired from the pastorate on June 30, 2016. Several celebratory events were held including special Friday night worship services, the 30th Anniversary service, a musical worship experience, tribute to First Lady, Deaconess Theora H. Austin and a “fun” night, all culminating with an Anniversary/Retirement Banquet at the Camelot.
In recognition of faithful and exemplary service, the Emmanuel Baptist Church family unanimously voted to honor Reverend Austin with the title of “Pastor Emeritus” in 2018.
Moving Faith Forward
The church elected Reverend Christopher L. Nichols as Interim Pastor on July 1, 2016 to serve as the spiritual leader of Emmanuel until a pastor was called. While serving as Interim Pastor, Reverend Nichols executed a vision to Emmanuel that the work of the church would not falter during the pastoral search process.
Reverend Nichols brought forth the theme: “Moving Faith Forward,” 1 Corinthians 15:58. Each Sunday we are exhorted to be “intentional with our witness”, always demonstrating God’s love. On Tuesday evenings during the summer months, groups of EBC congregants go out, walking the streets before prayer service to witness in the community and local neighborhood shopping centers. During the month of August, Sunday worship services are held outside under a tent in order to take the Word outside the four walls ending with a fellowship meal with our neighbors.
On October 12, 2017, Emmanuel extended the call to Reverend Christopher L. Nichols to become its fifth pastor. Reverend Nichols accepte and was formally installed on Sunday, December 10, 2017. Reverend Welton Fields, Jr., pastor of Southern Friendship Baptist Church, preached the installation sermon and Paso Emeritus Rev. Dr. Clinton W. Austin resided over the Act of Installation. An installation banquet followed on Friday, December 15, 2017 in the banquet hall of First Baptist Church of Highland Park.
Pastor Nichols assumed the role of pastor with great exuberance. Emmanuel continues to grow and be a church with a true vision for this age. The third Sunday of each month is now known as “Unity Sunday” where we come together as one body and break bread together. We now broadcast our services live on facebook and youtube. Our noon day worship on Wednesday (LIT) grows in attendance each week and our disciples are spiritually nourished and a boxed lunch is served. “Meals on Wheels” was implemented and our sick and shu-in receive delicious meals twice a month. Our community outreach efforts have grown tremendously. In addition to our semi-annual clothes and household goods give away, we host basketball tournaments, summer musical concerts, and “Show Love” community days at our neighborhood Giant and Safeway by purchasing groceries to random persons in line.
Emmanuel has experienced additions to the gospel ministry. Sister LaJuanda Brewer and Brother Christopher Slade preached their initial sermons and were granted their license to preach. Upon uniting with Emmanuel, Elder Sharon N. Townsend was added to the ministerial staff. Under Pastor Nichols’ leadership an EBC Drama ministry is now organized and the Women’s Ministry has been renamed “Women of Emmanuel”. The Safety Team has been established. To enhance the church’s stewardship, a Financial Investment Team has been organized. Our first Leadership Conference was held and each ministry leader received a revised handbook of ministry mission statements, church policies and procedures. In January 2019, Emmanuel and its subsidiary Ainger Place Development Corporation broke ground for the new 72-unit Ainger Place Apartments along with our partner the Michaels Organization.
Over the past 132 years we have truly experienced God’s grace! Emmanuel Baptist Church has been served by visionary pastors and leaders: Reverend Jesse A. Taylor (1887-1922), Interim Pastors, Reverend Coleman, Reverend Miller and Reverend Starks (1930-1931), Reverend Claggett W. Ward (1931-1974), Reverend Willie J. Mason (1976-1983), Interim Pastor Reverend Rudolph Keys (1984-1986), Reverend Dr. Clinton W. Austin (1986-2016) and Reverend Christopher L. Nichols 2017-present. We are poised to move faith forward through the power of the Holy Ghost!