Emmanuel Baptist Church, Toledo, Ohio, celebrated its 125th anniversary with a weekend of remembering the past and looking forward to the future.
The celebration began Saturday, May 6, with lunch, an event that included members, past members, and friends sharing their favorite memories of Emmanuel and testimonies of God’s faithfulness at the church.
One of those members, Ralph Mungons, says his favorite memory of the church was when someone collecting the offering in the 1940s dropped the offering plate. Back then, offering money consisted mostly of coins, Ralph points out. The coins fell onto a heat register, “and you could hear all these coins rattling down through the furnace in the middle of the service. . . . It was funny; let’s face it.”
Here’s the difference between then and now, he says: after the service, someone from the church took apart that furnace to get the coins out.
Ralph, age 85, is the longest-attending member of the church, having been a member for 77 years. The number of years he’s been attending the church? 85.
On Sunday, May 7, before the worship service, people browsed displays of photos and memorabilia giving a visual history of the church. Then during the service, Pastor Duke Crawford welcomed Chip Bernhard to speak. Chip grew up attending Emmanuel and has been pastor of Spring Creek Church, Pewaukee, Wisconsin, since 1987.
“I don’t know who made the decision to let me come back here,” Chip said, “but I’m deeply grateful.”
As a teenager, “I stood somewhere right around here,” he said from the pulpit, pointing to his right, near the front row, “with tears in my eyes—like there are today—and told [God] I’d do whatever He wanted.”
Chip says his time attending Emmanuel, particularly during high school, has been an anchor for his soul even in his older years. What he and his family appreciated while attending Emmanuel was the preaching of the gospel—that Jesus Christ alone can save people from their sins.
Over the last 125 years, “God has done a great work in and through [Emmanuel Baptist],” says Pastor Duke Crawford, “with the gospel changing lives for the glory of God right here in Toledo.”
The church is continuing to change lives for the glory of God and is undergoing a construction phase to welcome more people into the church’s fellowship.
“The story of this church is a story of [God’s] steadfast love and faithfulness,” Duke says. “[God has] never let us go.”