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"A Unique and Absorbing History"

The history of the Emanuel Church of God in Christ is unique and absorbing. It had its real beginning in the summer of 1922 when two young women experienced a consuming desire for a church of their own faith in the community. One of these young women was Mrs. Lena Hurst, who, after earnest prayer and searching the Holy Scriptures, was directed to Harrisburg. She followed this spiritual guidance into the city. To that same address, at the same time, also under guidance, came a Minister, Elder J. W. Simon. He also was being led by the Spirit to establish a Church of his faith.

After prayerful discussion, Mrs. Hurst offered Elder Simon a room in her home and prayer meetings were held. Folks from surrounding communities attended. During the summer of 1922, meetings were held in a borrowed tent with great success. Souls were saved and the community was stirred. The response of the people resulted in the decision of Elder Simon to continue the work in Steelton. Consequently, in September of 1922, Elder Simon called the followers together at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan Hurst and organized the Church of God in Christ. Services were held in the tents until cold weather; then in the spring of 1924, the church moved to the Transfer Shed on Trewick Street.

Our little flock had its measure of tribulation. In 1925 Elder Simon's wife died and a year later a fire of unknown origin completely destroyed the place of worship. Elder Simon had resigned a few months before.

A new minister, Elder J. J. Perkins, arrived and another tent meeting was launched (1926). After three years, he resigned. In the interim, Bishop O. T. Jones, Sr. sent Elder Wimbush followed by Elder M. S. White of Philadelphia to serve as administrative assistants. Elder Wimbush served from 1930-1931, and Elder White served from 1931-1936. Although the church was operating without an official pastor at this time, the church progressed rapidly until it was destroyed by the flood in 1936. Once again a new place of worship had to be secured. Again, services were held in a tent until a storeroom was rented on the site at 450 Main Street, Steelton, Pennsylvania. In October 1939, Bishop O. T. Jones, Sr. sent Elder Dewitt Arthur Burton to shepherd our flock. The church, at that time, was known as the "Sanctified Church" by the community. The "Sanctified Church" experienced enormous growth. Our storefront church was packed for every service, and many people were saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. The church was suddenly too small to accommodate a growing congregation. A church expansion effort was begun to the existing structure. Skilled men, who were members of the church, built the addition.

The church renovation was almost complete except for the roof. One day it rained continuously and fiercely. The church members were dismayed because they thought that the storm ruined the church edifice. Upon arrival to the church that Sunday, the saints were amazed. It rained everywhere in Steelton except on Main Street; the church was spared. That morning, Elder Burton preached about how God works miracles. He said, "God is with us, so this church will be called Emanuel because we know that God is with us." After four years the church edifice was completed and the mortgage was burned (1943).

In 1950, Emanuel was the first church in the area to present radio broadcasts on Sunday evening at 6:00 PM. Souls were saved and miracles were witnessed through this ministry. The church again was filled to capacity. The members had contracted to secure land to build a new facility in Harrisburg; however, instead of constructing a new church, it was more economical to purchase the church at 601 North 16th Street. (1965)

During this 1965-1976 era, Bishop Burton served as General Secretary of the Church of God in Christ, Inc., while concurrently pastoring two additional churches, namely Reid's Temple (E. Orange, NJ) and Garden of Prayer (Philadelphia, PA). These additional responsibilities required Bishop Burton to travel extensively. Bishop Burton appointed Elder Charles Rodgers and Elder Robert Bady to serve as administrative assistants in his absence.

With the leading of the Lord, Bishop Burton was moved to appoint Elder David M. Screven to succeed him as Pastor of the Emanuel Church in 1976. Today, Elder Screven continues to follow the leading of the Lord to lead his growing congregation. Under his leadership, Emanuel has and continues to serve it community through various outreach ministries. One of these ministries, The Food Bank ministry, has been open for over 25 years, and has serve hundreds of people weekly from across the Susquehanna Valley. Additionally, the church continues to challenge its members and community to take an active and direct role on issues in local, state, and national affairs which affect their communities.

Elder Screven has been the pastor of Emanuel for the since 1976 Bishop Burton & Pastor Screven 2010and he continues to prayerfully lead the growing congregation. Under his ministry, Emanuel has been able to pay off its mortgage at the 16th Street location, constructed parking spaces for the congregation, and has acquired additional properties within the city. Additionally, Emanuel has established educational ministries, family enrichment ministries, health ministries, as well as, an In-reach and Outreach Evangelistic ministry. Emanuel also serves its community through various other outreach ministries such as the Food Bank ministry and the Clothing Bank ministry. In particular, Emanuel's Food Bank has been operating for over 25 years, and serves approximately four to five hundred people weekly across the Susquehanna Valley. Furthermore, the church continues to challenge its members and commituniy to take an active and direct role on issues in local, state, and national affairs which affect their communities.
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