By the time the celebration started at 5 p.m., Emmanuel Baptist Church was already packed. The choir, resplendent in blue and gold robes, sang a favorite hymn as the audience clapped.
The pastor, the Rev. Byron J. Day, and church First Lady Pamela Day, were seated at the front of the congregation, beaming, as many of the church’s 300 members celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the Laurel-Bowie Road house of worship. The service marked the fourth day of festivities. For three days prior, members had gathered at the church each evening for a revival. The church birthday celebration, themed “Living in Victory by Faith,” from the Bible verse 1 John 5:4, ran from Oct. 2-4. All events took place inside the church’s quaint double-wide trailer nestled in a semi-rural area not far from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
The culminating event of the anniversary celebration took place on Oct. 6, when the EBC congregation welcomed the Rev. Timothy Loftin, pastor of Pleasant Rock Baptist Church in Baltimore. Delivering his sermon to an enthusiastic congregation of more than 300 attendees, including members of his own church, Rev. Loftin recited EBC’s motto: “We are a Bible preaching, a Bible teaching, and a Bible-believing church.”
The anniversary celebration marked a time to reflect on the church’s history, from its humble beginnings as a 50-member congregation in 1981 to its current roster of 300 members who attend today.
“It has been an experience to watch the church grow and to watch the number of people grow and come to know the Lord,” said church secretary Evelyn Davis, who has been a member since 1998.
Davis recalled how she has watched EBC double in size in her 15 years as a member. What started out as a small 2,700 square-foot space grew to a 5,000 square-foot facility including a sanctuary, small kitchen and offices.
“I look forward to watching EBC expand their ministries so that more people can get to know the Lord,” Davis said.
Incorporated in October 1981, Emmanuel Baptist Church was created to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the then fast-growing town of Laurel, according to the church’s website. The church was created when representatives from three northern Prince George’s County congregations—First Baptist Church of Laurel, Faith Baptist Church and Beltsville Baptist Church—decided that there needed to be another house of worship in the South Laurel area.
As part of the revival’s three-day festivities, EBC welcomed the Rev. Everett Pope, pastor of United Baptist Church in New Carrollton on Oct. 2; the Rev. Clyde Pearson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Temple Hills on October 3; and the Rev. Quintin Few, pastor of First Baptist Church of Suitland in Forestville on Oct. 4.
Loftin told the church that to stay strong, the members need to work as a team. He urged them to be committed and offer their services by volunteering to do everything from cooking for events to taking out the trash.
And, he said, “Always remember to take care of your pastor.”