Emmanuel Baptist Church of Xenia, Ohio started in the 1930’s as a mission with street meetings being held in Xenia and out-lying villages. Called the Lake Street Mission Church, it had 14 charter members under Pastor S. Andrew Hutchison (1939-1950). In the 1940’s the name was changed to Lake Street Baptist Church, then incorporated in 1947 as Emmanuel Baptist Church, and was associated with the General Association of Regular Baptists (GARBC). One of the early outreach ministries of the church was to the children of the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home, which was only a block away from the church.
Due to increased attendance, in 1959 the church moved from Lake Street to its present site on South Detroit Street, a move of a few blocks. The church met at the Xenia YMCA during the construction year in 1959. During the 1960’s the church was pastored by John Teeters (1962-1971). Due to church growth and the desire to start a Christian school, the educational wing was built in 1967. With the retirement of Pastor Teeters, pastoring of the church transitioned to R. William Wheeler who led the church from 1973-1999. Shawnee Hills Baptist Church (Jamestown, Ohio) and Oxford Baptist Church (Oxford, Ohio) were established as church plants by Emmanuel and other local GARBC churches in 1974 and 1975 respectively.
Because of a burden for Christian education for the children of the community, Xenia Christian Day School (XCDS) was organized in 1967 as a primary ministry of Emmanuel Baptist Church. XCDS was chartered by the state for grades K-8 in 1974, and in 1981 XCDS added a full program of grades K-12, with the first graduates in 1982. Due to the financial burden of running the school under the church, in 1993 the decision was made to transition XCDS from a ministry of Emmanuel Baptist to a campus of the Dayton Christian School System. Because of school growth, Xenia Christian High School moved from Emmanuel to the old Xenia roller skating rink on Lower Bellbrook Avenue in 1995. Again due to school growth, in 1999 Dayton Christian Schools purchased the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home, established Legacy Ministries International (LMI), and moved both the high school and the elementary school to the new LMI campus.
With the transition of responsibilities for XCDS to Dayton Christian Schools, the church now had additional time and resources to devote to other forms of engagement with the local community. The children’s ministry expanded greatly during the 1990’s with the start of a weekly AWANA program and an after school program for neighborhood children, and also led to the addition of a full time children’s director position on the church staff. The youth ministry also expanded during this time, including weekly middle school and high school meetings, weekly outreaches at the county youth detention center, and the addition of a full time youth director’s position on the church staff. Youth meetings were held in a home next door purchased by the church in the 1980’s, due to lack of space in the main church facility. The adult ministries transitioned from a Sunday AM/PM Wednesday evening service format to a Sunday morning worship service and adult Bible studies, Sunday evening small group fellowships, Wednesday evening ministry engagement format. This also led to the addition of part time directors of ministries and discipleship to the church staff. Support for global missions also increased greatly during this time, and a number of Emmanuel members and friends were sent to nations all around the globe, including France, England, Poland, Haiti, Togo, Mongolia, Ukraine, Romania, and Albania. Pastor Wheeler retired in 1999 after 24 years of service at Emmanuel, and shepherding of the church transitioned to Pastor Don Linnell from 2001 to 2005. Because of increased attendance, plans were made to expand the church physical plant by addition a multi-purpose auditorium and ministry center, which opened in 2006.
Due to the size of the ministry and the giftedness of the men of the congregation, plans were made to transition from a single pastor shepherding model with a Deacon Board to a collaborative shepherding model based on a Council of Elders, assisted by Deacons responsible for ministries of mercy. This transition was formally made in 2006 with the installation of the first Council of Elders, composed of 6 men from the congregation, and a renewed Board of Deacons, composed of 11 men from the congregation. In February of 2012, Emmanuel brought on a full-time Staff Elder, Rev. David R. Myles, to complement the giftedness and time availability of the current Council of Elders, all of whom have full time vocations outside of the church.
During the later part of the 2000 decade, the elders at Emmanuel sensed an increased need for the church to engage with the local community and the local body of Christ. This led to Emmanuel taking a significant part in cooperative activities of the body of Christ in Xenia, including bringing the Impact World Tour sponsored by Youth With a Mission to Xenia in 2008, joining with other churches already housing the homeless in their facilities via the Interfaith Hospitality Network in 2008, the establishment of a second community meal program partnering with 5 other local churches in 2009, an active engagement with the poor and needy in our community in 2009, taking a leadership role in the Xenia Area Association of Churches and Ministries, and the establishment of a youth center and collaborative youth ministries in the Xenia area (the Cleft). Emmanuel added a part-time Community Coordinator to the staff in 2008 to help with these activities. This engagement has also changed the feel of the worship service, as we now have a mix of traditional and contemporary worship styles, and are attempting to teach biblical truth that will challenge both new and long term believers in their journey with God. Emmanuel has also partnered with other organizations by the use of our facilities. Since 2009, Xenia Community Schools, Xenia Christian School, Athletes in Action, Summit Academy and Greene County Children’s Services have had significant activities in our facilities. Emmanuel also hosts two para-church organizations, the Greene County Marriage Resource Center and Gospel Recordings International.