A Raleigh church that is about to celebrate a birthday wants the surrounding neighborhood to know community is important.
Emmanuel Baptist Church on Noble Road will celebrate its 65th birthday on Sept. 30. Founded in 1950, the church has grown and adapted while occupying the same property.
Raleigh was a different place in 1950 – one that the founding parishioners might not recognize.
“The first things that would be different was that it used to be at that time in Raleigh most of the people who came to the church were within walking distance,” said Steve Tillis, senior pastor at Emmanuel Baptist. “There used to be small apartments and small homes. It was a local church in the neighborhood and everyone walked here. Now I would say the vast majority of our people drive in.”
Tillis said worshippers come from local neighborhoods, but also from Midtown Raleigh, Wake Forest and Smithfield in Johnston County. As the birthday approaches, he wants to remind neighbors about the strong faith community located just around the corner.
“It’s still a local church in the neighborhood,” Tillis said. “You don’t need to drive anywhere, you can just walk here.”
Like many congregations, Emmanuel Baptist has had its ups and downs in membership and leadership and has taken steps to remain relevant.
“We do here what we call blended worship,” Tillis said. “We greatly respect hymns and older songs. We appreciate those, but at the same time we respect that new music is being made and as long as it is Christ-honoring and worthy of the church we blend both of those together.”
Tillis said adults who reminisce about the feeling of church community from years gone by are comfortable at Emmanuel.
“We’re a family church. We have old people here, middle-aged people, families with kids, we are a real multi-ethnic church,” he said. “ Half or more of our youth are African-American. We have a good cross-section of people.”
As Raleigh has grown, so has Emmanuel Baptist.
“It used to be years ago it was a very formal church where they played the organ and sang the doxology every Sunday,” Tillis said. “We still respect all that and we still incorporate that, but we do more of a blended worship here that appeals to and works with people of all ages and ethnicities as well.”
Tillis said Emmanuel Baptist participates in community outreach by hosting sports events, craft sales and a fall festival. In the next few months the church is adding an outreach for blind worshippers.
“We try to do things in our neighborhood and in our city to share the gospel, but also to meet human needs,” Tillis said.
On Sunday, Sept. 13, Emmanuel Baptist will celebrate its birthday with a special service and also dinner underneath tents on the grounds. Church members will also open a time capsule.
Tillis said the congregation is on track to keep going for another 65 years.
“As long as they put first what’s important, the Lord and the community, I can easily see them being here for the next 65 years,” he said. “If you step outside the church and look around, the city is growing to us. I don’t want us to be swallowed up and for somebody to think that is just an ancient building. We are here and we are vibrant and meaningful.”
Yoga for a Cause
Holy Yoga in Raleigh is taking part in a nationwide effort to raise $40,000 in 40 days to provide yoga for trauma survivors.
Twenty-five percent of the class cost of Monday morning Holy Yoga at Grace Community Church will be donated to the effort. Participants can also leave cash or checks at those classes or go online to indiegogo.com and search Holy Yoga to donate. The collection period runs through Sept. 9.
Holy Yoga provides a gentle practice designed to strengthen each participant’s connection to Christ. It meets Monday mornings at Grace Community Church at 6561 Meridian Drive in Raleigh.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Raleigh will present its monthly SHiNE service from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16.
SHiNE is a service designed for worshippers of all abilities and their families. It takes place in the sanctuary at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at 7000 Creedmoor Road in Raleigh.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at firstname.lastname@example.org.