Immanuel Baptist Church began on March 15, 1915, when a small group of 37 charter members agreed to form a new church. On April 22, 1915, the church was formally organized. The church celebrated its 100 Anniversary in 2015.
Rev. George J. Dowell of Ayden, NC, one of the organizers, suggested the name Immanuel (God with us). The first meeting place was a hall above the Express Company located at the corner of West Eighth Street and Dickinson Avenue. In 1916, Rev. John E. Ayscue was called as the first pastor of Immanuel, serving from 1916-1920
Property was purchased on West Eighth Street and the original Immanuel Baptist Church was completed in 1917 at a cost of $24,483.50. This location was the home of Immanuel for fifty years. The structure is no longer standing.
In 1927 during the pastorate of Rev. L. R. O’Brian (1925-1929) the first five women were elected to serve as deacons. In recent years one woman has been ordained to the ministry.
During the depression years the women began a project to finance and furnish a “proper” parlor. They sold cakes, eggs, etc. and saved the money. Today’s parlor is furnished by the money earned and saved for this project.
In July 1965, construction for a new building began on 2.44 acres of land on South Elm Street, where the present church now resides. Members carefully packed the pipes for the organ and transferred them to the new building. Unfortunately the pipes and organ were soon damaged by moisture and were discarded. Services were first held at this location on May 14, 1967, and all debt was retired in May 1977. This location was chosen to keep the church near the East Carolina University campus although land on 14th Street Extension was offered as a gift.
The need for an education/administration addition prompted the church to undertake a “Together We Build” campaign in 1986, which yielded $434,897.02 in contributions. This phase of building was completed March 1, 1989. The heated space for the entire building consists of 39,822 square feet, spread across three floors. There is elevator access as well as handicapped-accessible restrooms on each floor.
The sanctuary of Immanuel seats a congregation of 325. Recent upgrades to the sanctuary include a new sound system and projector screen installed in August 2006 that offer state-of-the-art technical capabilities in worship services. The sanctuary has a loft with seating for a 30 – 40 member choir, an organ and a piano. A fellowship hall, equipped with a fully functional kitchen and a small stage with curtains, is located on the bottom floor of Immanuel, where many church functions and Wednesday Night Supper take place.
The pastorates of Rev. Irby B. Jackson (1956–1977), Dr. Gene Adams (1977-1981), and Rev. Hugh A. Burlington, Jr. (1981–2005) helped to shape the current congregation. During the latter period, Immanuel supported the creation of a Korean Mission that still shares the fellowship hall and educational space with us. The Koreans are a vital part of our preschool and children’s ministries, and our softball team.
Dr. W. Scott Conner served as Immanuel’s pastor from 2008-2016. During his pastorate, our ministry emphases have included various projects at Belvoir Elementary School in northern Pitt County and the Building Hope Community Life Center in Greenville. Another emphasis has been college ministry to domestic and international students at East Carolina University (ECU), located within walking distance. Immanuel also hosts several Lifelong Learning classes offered by ECU’s Continuing Education program. Many of our past and current members have been ECU students, faculty, administrators, or staff.