Immanuel Baptist Church began as a dream of First Baptist Church, Florence to create a mission to the city's growing population of railroad workers and their families. Florence, like much of the south, was undergoing a railroad boom in the late 1890's and early 1900's. A neighborhood place of worship was long needed and that dream soon became a reality. The mission began its work in a one room empty store on Kemp Street in 1908 as the Kemp Street Chapel.
First Baptist Church provided funds to secure the use of the second floor of Herring's Grocery Store on Cheves Street for Sunday School and worship. Along with a gathering place, 36 members of First Baptist switched their membership to Second Baptist Church (Immanuel's birth name) on Sunday, June 20, 1909. Under the leadership of Rev. M. C. Walton, these 36 members, children and guests held the very first worship service of Second Baptist Church on July 11, 1909. On March 30, 1912, Second Baptist was renamed Immanuel Baptist Church. Immanuel meaning "God with Us" became the watchwords for the new and growing endeavor.
Immanuel has had several homes during its 111 years. Work on a church building began almost immediately, and a new place of worship was finished in 1912 at the corner of East Cheves and Jarrott Streets. This new building served the Immanuel family well for nearly 3 decades under the leadership of Rev. Walton, Dr. W. B. Oliver, Rev. B. F. Allen, Rev. R. I. Corbett, Rev. W. R. Barnes and Rev. P. H. Bussey.
By the late 1930's, Immanuel Baptist had grown into a thriving ministry and was desperate for more space. Construction began in June of 1941, and soon the membership was blessed with a new colonial style red brick building on Palmetto Street. Rev. Bussey faithfully served the Immanuel family for 17 years until his retirement in August 1947. He was followed as pastor of Immanuel Baptist by Dr. E. E. Colvin, Dr. T. R. Fryer and Rev. J. R. Aiken.
As the City of Florence outgrew its railroad roots so too Immanuel grew to face new ministries and possibilities. The membership of Immanuel had outgrown the church on Palmetto Street. The church needed major improvements and expansion but room to grow was limited and costly. Florence was moving westward into the surrounding area and Immanuel joined that migration.
July 15, 1972 saw the ground-breaking for the fifth, and current home, of Immanuel Baptist Church. On Sunday, July, 7, 1974, the membership gathered for the last time on Palmetto Street and marched as one body of believers to Cherokee Road to officially open their new place of worship and fellowship. Rev. Aiken served as pastor for more than 35 years, retiring in 1998. He was followed by Dr. C. B. Watford, Rev. W. Dillenbeck, Rev. O. Holland (interim), and its current pastor Rev. C. M. Pittman, Jr.
Pastor Charlie and his wife, Marcia, invite you to worship with the Immanuel family and see if this is the place God wants you to call home.