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Emmanuel Church historic photo
Lisa Saunders Special To The Skanner News
Published: 02 April 2015

Bishop C.T. Wells, his wife First Lady DeAngeloa Wells, the entire Emmanuel Church family, and ministries from around the country will be celebrating the 50th year of ministry for this revered local ministry  with a grand three-day celebration April 10 – 12.

On Friday, April 10, Emmanuel Church will kick-off the Anniversary Celebration with a Gospel Concert, 7 p.m., at the church, 1033 N. Sumner St. The concert will feature national recording artists: Todd Galbreth, Shawn McLemore, and Zacardi Cortez. Local gospel artists also participating include past and present members of Emmanuel’s stellar music ministry: Evangelist Beverly Brazzle, Minister Onnie Irby, Tommy Hammond, and DaNell Daymon. Tickets for this event are $10 and are available at Emmanuel Church.

On Saturday evening, April 11, the celebration takes a turn towards glitz and glamour with the 50th Anniversary Golden Awards Gala at the Crown Plaza Hotel, 1441 N.E. 2nd Ave. The festivities will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour featuring the sounds of well-known local saxophonist Eldon T. Jones and his jazz ensemble, N’Touch. The awards portion of the evening will immediately follow and will feature inspired reflection from Bishop Wells, First Lady Wells, Emmanuel Temple Founders, Bishop A.A. and Evangelist Mattie Wells, and other local and national speakers and guest musical artists. An historical documentary on the church will be shown, and the evening will culminate with awards honoring individuals who have made the ministry what it is today. Tickets for this event are $35 and are available at Emmanuel Church.

Then on Sunday, April 12, the anniversary weekend culminates with two spirit-filled services. The guest speaker for the 11 a.m. service will be the Founding Pastor of Emmanuel Temple, Bishop A.A. Wells, and the guest speaker for the 3:30 p.m. service will be Bishop George Bloomer from Bethel Family Worship Center in Durham, North Carolina. Special music will be rendered by the Emmanuel Church Reunion Choir under the directorship of nationally acclaimed choir director DaNell Daymon. Both of these events are free to the community.

Emmanuel Church was founded on April 11, 1965 as Mississippi St. Full Gospel Pentecostal Church by influential community leader Bishop A.A. Wells and his wife, Evangelist Mattie Wells. Their humble roots began in a small storefront building on North Mississippi Avenue. There were eight people present for that first service. The church grew quickly and in 1969 the congregation moved into their very own building at 1032 N. Sumner St. and became Emmanuel Temple Full Gospel Pentecostal Church. Here the church truly blossomed and became known for the  passionate preaching of Bishop A.A. Wells, and the exuberant singing and celebration that occurred every time the doors of the church opened.

As the size and influence of Emmanuel Temple grew, and seeing critical needs in the local African American community, the ministry expanded to include community outreach activities such as economic development, gang outreach, and family reunification. Bishop A.A. Wells represented the church on many community initiatives over the years, and was often called upon to lend his wisdom and stature when and where needed. In 2004 Emmanuel Temple became Emmanuel Church.

Today, Emmanuel Church, with a membership of over 400, stands on the shoulders of those eight faithful members who 50 years ago dared to pioneer a great local ministry in the city of Portland. It sits on a sprawling site at 1033 N. Sumner St, just across the street from their previous church building and is pastored by Bishop CT Wells,  the son of  Founder’s Bishop AA & Evangelist Mattie Wells, and his wife DeAngeloa Wells. Acknowledging the severe impact of gentrification on the community, Emmanuel Church launched a satellite church in East Portland pastored by Pastor Sean Hicks that is growing fast.

Impacting the community with relevant programs is also a priority for Emmanuel Church. The church has a Food Box Ministry that gives away over 6,000 pounds of food to over 85 families a week. Its social service non-profit, Emmanuel Community Services, currently operates the Emmanuel Shelter a 15 room facility for women who are reuniting with their children previously under Department of Human Services custody, and the Step by Step Parenting Program specifically designed to help reunify families who are currently in the DHS (Department of Human Services) Foster Care system throughout the Portland Metro area. One of the most pervasive issues facing the Portland African American Community is that of domestic violence. It was a natural evolution that Emmanuel Community Services create a program to provide support in this area, so The FAWOH Circle was born. The mission is to break the cultural silence and the stigma of domestic violence. The term FAWOH is derived from the West African Symbol FAWOHODIE representing independence, freedom and emancipation. The FAWOH Circle is a successful model that is building a safe haven for African American women who are struggling to escape a variety of abusive situations. These may range from physical, emotional, sexual, and psychological trauma at the hands of a spouse, partner, relative or others with access in their lives.

Content not to rest on the laurels of yesterday, Emmanuel Church is positioning itself to launch several bold initiatives over the next few years. “As we look to the future, I see us capitalizing in a major way on the dynamic past and present we have today.” say Bishop CT Wells. “My vision is to see our church make an even greater social and economic impact on our community in the next few years through some bold new initiatives.  One of which is the development of our South Campus.   This development calls for a 47,000 square foot partial of land owned by the church to be converted into 14 to 16 single-family homes. It is indeed an exciting and momentous time in the ministry here at Emmanuel. We have much to celebrate."

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