Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the oldest known Black congregations in Durham County. In 1880, Emmanuel A.M.E. Church began holding its church services in the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Fitzgerald. In 1888, on a tract of land owned by his family, Mr. Fitzgerald erected the church at 705 Kent Street, which today, is recorded as the oldest surviving religious edifice built by a religious congregation in Durham.
Over the years, Reverends H. J. Jeter, C. S. Stroud, J. A. Hunter, C. E. Johnson, J. C. Cross, Peter Crawford, G. W. Troublefield, J. D. Treadwell, P. O. James, J. F. Epps, Nathaniel Gaylord, L. G. Horton, L. O. Saunders, and John R. Crutchfield provided their pastoral guidance and leadership to Emmanuel while at its Kent Street location. Although small, their dreams were large and with less than 50 members recorded on the roll, the congregation began to express interests in renovating the church located on Kent Street, along with contemplating the idea of purchasing another building to relocate the church. The church ultimately decided to head out on a new journey and purchased a piece property, owned at the time by the Southern Baptist Church congregation. This property was located at 2018 Riddle Road.
In March of 1971, Reverend John R. Crutchfield, and the members of Emmanuel, with dreams of the future in mind, moved to their new earthly home. Emmanuel continued to blossom under the leadership of Reverend Crutchfield, as well as under the pastorships of Reverends Clyde Long, David L. Morrison, Sheridan Knight and Shelton T. Miles. As the church pews filled to capacity each Sunday, Reverend Miles recognized the immediate need for expansion, to meet the needs of the growing church congregation. A new building committee was formed and plans for a larger facility were put into place. As a result of the dedication of Emmanuel’s members, the construction of a new sanctuary began and was dedicated on October 26, 2008. This occasion marked yet another milestone in Emmanuel’s rich history.
Emmanuel's growth has been immense over the years and the church continues to be blessed with faithful and forward thinking leadership to include its most recent pastors, Presiding Elder (Reverend) Anita M. Thompson, Reverend John D. Burton, and currently under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Akil K. Dickens.
The book of Isaiah (KJV) interprets the name Emmanuel as "GOD WITH US". And as our foremothers and forefathers wholeheartedly believed in God’s faithfulness, Emmanuel A.M.E. still stands. We stand, trusting and believing that God is “Thou Who Has Brought Us Thus Far on The Way”. Today, we thankfully celebrate our journey. For our journey attests to a long lineage of unshakeable believers in God, undeniable love for humanity, and an unwavering commitment to serving our community. To God be the glory!
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.