History of Immanuel Temple SDA Church
Immanuel Temple Seventh-Day Adventist Church (ITSDA Church) began in 1911 after Elder G.E. Peters came to Durham and erected a tent on the corner of Pine (now Roxboro St.) Street and Piedmont Avenue and held an evangelistic meeting. During that tent effort (evangelistic meeting), a few people accepted the Adventist message and were baptized. The charter members were the Torain, Robinson, Parnam, Robertson, and Wallace families. The ten to fifteen members, under the leadership of Elder Peters, met from house to house for church services. Later they met at the old Odd Fellows Hall on Pine (Roxboro) Street.
Cora Robertson, who was a charter member, donated a lot of land on the corner of Lincoln and Massey Streets. A very small but attractive church, Immanuel Temple SDA Church was built. Later, Elder J.G. Thomas held an evangelistic meeting in Durham. More people were baptized which increased the church membership. The church building was enlarged to accommodate the growing congregation.
In 1935, a church school was started in the basement of the original church building. Mrs. Lucille Rogers was the teacher and taught school there for 15 years. Some of the students were Willie Mae Mason, Doris Whitley, Geneva Jacobs, Mildred Hayes, Della Farmer, Jessie Walston, Katheryn Crump, Singletary children: Audrey, Jacqueline, Kenneth and Edward… to name a few. Some of these students are currently members.
Many evangelistic meetings continued to be held which resulted in membership growth. In 1954, Pastor Isaac J. Johnson realized the need for a new and larger edifice. As a result, the existing building on the corner of Lincoln and Massey Streets was built behind the original church.
The church held a baby shower for Willie Mae Mason (Gladys Mason Hanna), Doris Whitley (Thelma Whitley Jones), Geneva Jacobs, (Mercedes Jacobs Bowman), and Sharon Winston (William “Bill” L. Winston). This fundraising event raised the first $1,000 of the building fund for the 1309 Lincoln Street church. Whalen Smith contributed major financing for the building project. John Glover, Thomas Jones, Whalen Smith, and Samuel Winston were members that put their hands to the task and actively assisted in building the complete two-story structure at 1309 Lincoln Street. Worship services were held in the basement of this building until the upstairs sanctuary was completed May 8, 1958. The building project was completed and dedicated under Pastor Joseph T. Powell.
Since the opening at the existing 1309 Lincoln Street church, several ministers served and helped increase the membership over the years. Those ministers include, Elder Ralph Franklin, Evangelist J. Malcolm Phipps, Elder Owen U. Holness, Elder James O. Best, and Elder Barry C. Black, current Chaplain of the United States Senate.
In 1976, Pastor Robert A. Sloan began his ministry and planted the seed to build a new church in another location. Elder Jeffrey Baskins assisted Pastor Sloan, serving as associate pastor from 1985-1986. Pastor Sloan retired from his service at Immanuel Temple in 1990. To date, he has been the longest serving pastor and remains an active and faithful member of Immanuel Temple.
Pastor Alvin E. Freeman continued the building program to erect a new church. Elder Freeman served as pastor from 1990 to 1994. During his tenure, he started a gospel choir currently known as Anointed Voices of Praise (AVP). He also held a series of evangelistic tent meetings. The number of people baptized filled the church to capacity, which gave even more purpose to the vision.
Elder David A. Smith served as pastor of Immanuel Temple church. Under the leadership of Pastor Smith, 13 acres of land was purchased on S. Alston Avenue as the site for the new church building. Through much prayer, sacrificial giving, diligence, and careful planning, the Lord blessed us to move forward with a Ground Breaking Ceremony on January 9, 2000. The congregation worshipped in the new church building for the first time on July 21, 2001. The Grand Opening Celebration was the weekend of July 27-28, 2001!
Since moving into the new edifice, the following ministers have served as pastor; Elder Larry E. Johnson (current Treasurer of the South Atlantic Conference), Elder Ronald J. Wright, Elder William L. Winston, (current South Atlantic Conference President), Elder John S. Nixon, II, and as of April 2013, Elder Melvyn Warfield.
On the weekend of October 14-15, 2011, Immanuel Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrated 100 years as a congregation! To God be the glory! Great things He has done and will continue to do!