Our History


Emory’s Historical Timeline

We are proud of our heritage and seek to continue to make history as a church that acts as the hands of Christ in the community into the future.
  • 1832: Emory Church started in a red brick house which used to stand on the property that is now Nativity Catholic Church
  • 1833: Emory Church purchases one-third of the land it owns now and relocates into part of its present site
  • 1840s: The Methodist Church splits over the issue of slavery and owning slaves.  The Methodist Episcopal South Church is formed under the edict that people can be Christians and own slaves.  Emory becomes a Methodist Episcopal South church.
  • 1855: Emory Church purchases two-thirds of the land it own now from a Black woman, Dorothy Williams.  The land, known as Vinegar Hill, is still historic to this day.
  • 1860s: The Civil War. Emory Church is used as a barracks, a hospital, a jail and a healing station controlled by the Union army during the war as a support to nearby Fort Stevens.
  • 1870: Emory Church building is torn down and rebuilt.
  • 1922: Emory Church is torn down and rebuilt with assistance of Federal funding; the 1922 model is church’s present building structure
  • 1940s: The Methodist Church reunites.  Emory becomes apart of the unified body.
  • 1950: Emory Church registers 1,200 members; Brightwood neighborhood is all white
  • 1960s: Norma Vinson comes to worship at Emory and is considered by the present membership as the first black member to integrate the church.
  • 1968: Emory Church registers 300 members; Brightwood neighborhood becomes predominately black due to the advancement of the Civil Rights movement.  E.A. Langrall, pastor of Emory (white), proclaims that Emory needs a young black pastor who can help the congregation transition and help the church become relevant in the community (Washington Post documentation)
  • 1976:  Emory receives its first black pastor, Steven Abel (part-time); church registers less than 30 members.
  • 1977:  Emory receives it first full-time African American pastor, E. Allen Stewart,  who served for 9 months.
  • 1978-1985:  Emory is served by a series of part-time pastors, most who serve the church as retired pastors; the church almost closes on three occasions, is almost sold on two other occasions.  An usher cries at the door one Sunday upon seeing 30 people in worship.
  • 1985-1990:  Retired District Superintendant Richard Clifford comes to Emory to pastor.  The church stabilizes and grows to 85 members.
  • 1990-1992:  After Rev. Clifford’s death, Curtis Mitchell comes to serve as pastor.  He retires in 1992.
  • 1992:  Joseph W. Daniels, Jr. came to Emory as a DS hire to serve as its part-time pastor at Emory.  Membership is 85 with an average worship size of 55 people.
  • 1993:  Rev. Daniels is appointed as a full-time pastor to Emory. The Cosmopolitan Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, the oldest group in the city comes to Emory to use its facilities for meetings, joining Meals on Wheels as community connections to the church.
  • 1994: As a result of significant church growth, the first gospel choir assembled at Emory is called Emory Sounds of Salvation.  The first youth gospel choir; Emory Voices of Faith is formed.  Emory becomes one of the first churches nationally and in the Baltimore-Washington Conference to start Disciple Bible Study.  The study revolutionizes leadership within the congregation.  The church receives national attention.
  • 1995: Mr. Winslow Smith, Sr.; minister of music since 1974 retires.  Carlotta Bryant assumes minister of music role for the next 11 years.
  • 1996: The congregation and pastor receive city-wide attention for their prominent role in the Washington Interfaith Network, a social justice church-based organization in D.C.  Church opens its doors to house homeless people for the first time; this signifies the birth of the transitional housing ministry.
  • 1997: As a result of an unsuccessful attempt at acquiring a set of apartment buildings for housing, the Church establishes the Emory Beacon of Light, Inc. to serve as a community development organization for the Brightwood community.
  • 1999: Transitional housing ministry expands and is moved to the newly renovated Lighthouse as a part of the Emory Beacon of Light.  The church forms productive partnership with YACHAD, the Jewish Community Development Corporation of Greater Washington.  Emory consecrates two street pastors, John Davis and Horace Dei to do street ministry.
  • 1999-2000: A new and fresh vision for Emory is cast; the church begins to grow again.  (From 170 to 181 in average worship)
  • 2000: Emory Church received the prestigious Kim Jefferson Award for Urban Ministry for the Northeast Jurisdiction from the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.
  • 2001: Emory Church begins a second service at 8 a.m.; vision is recast again.
  • 1999-2005: Church increases average worship attendance from 170 to 400.
  • 2002: Emory Church is selected as on of the 25 Congregational Resource Centers for the Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century.
  • 2003: Emory sponsors its first SBC-21 training event, placing it on the national scene as a teaching congregation.  After a power outage in the wintertime threatened to halt the 10:30 a.m. worship experience, the congregation made its own heat, and the power was restored at a prophetic moment in Pastor Daniels’ sermon.  Immigration clinic starts at the Beacon of Light.  Emory serves as a teaching site for the School of Congregational Development for the United Methodist Church.
  • 2004: Church hires its first assistant pastor, LaDelle Feemster.
  • 2005: Emory begins a third service at 2:30 p.m., targeting street people but open to everyone.
  • 2006: Church begins Lifestyle Stewardship Campaign to build a multipurpose facility for the community, affordable rental, transitional and transient housing for the community as well as a new worship center.  DC government provides a grant for Emory Beacon of Light to do streetscape, business development and crime prevention.
  • 2003-2006: Church becomes a nationally recognized teaching site for congregational and community revitalization, hosts numerous training events and site visits.
  • 2006:  New strategic plan launched.
  • 2007:  Emory Beacon of Light, Inc. is recognized by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty for its community and economic development work in the city.
  • 2006 to present:  Church and the Beacon of Light launches mixed-use development project in the Brightwood community called the Beacon Center.