Seldom is one congregation blessed with outstanding, dynamic leadership that will take it from one level of successful ministry to another on three different occasions, but Emmanuel Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is one such church.
The Church got its start under a different name—No. 6 COGIC—in the middle 1940’s when Elder Emile Smith, along with his dutiful wife, Sister Myrtle Smith, felt the call to go into pastoral ministry. Their vision was not daunted by having to move from place to place. In fact, their dream became clearer, first, with a name change to Emmanuel COGIC, and then to a more permanent location—2815 Stanton Road, SE, in 1971. Pastor Emile Smith was a man who possessed unique insight and ability. His affable personality enhanced his contributions to the development of the COGIC faith in Washington, D.C. He will always be remembered with fondness and profound respect.
Just as Moses led Israel through the wilderness, so did Elder Smith, but it was Elder William L. Holmes, the second-generation pastor, who led Emmanuel up to the borders of Canaan, so to speak. Elder Smith found in Elder Holmes a quality he admired—faithful servanthood. The late Bishop Samuel Kelsey elevated this multi-talented leader to the pastorate of Emmanuel COGIC in 1975. For the next 15 years, the vision to make this ministry a model in the faith community took on form and substance. Before his earthly departure in 1990, Pastor Holmes and his faithful congregation had climbed to new heights in the faith. Emmanuel was recognized for its spiritual platform and its creative programs, and even today, it owes a debt of gratitude to Pastor Holmes who led them in those undertakings.
And now, it is Joshua’s time to take the people of God into Cannan to possess the land. Elder Donnell Smith has already proven himself in the last ten years to be an impressive leader. His life, too, is characterized by faithfulness to whatever task is before him as a servant of the Lord. Elder Smith’s vision is not only an extension of the first two pastors, but it also contains many unique aspects that God has given to him and his dear wife, Evangelist Betty J. Smith. They are destined to carry the church onward. Pastor Smith’s ministry epitomizes New Testament faith and activities and Emmanuel is in the process of becoming that model church for the twenty-first century.