Immanuel Baptist Church
By: Christie Clements
Baptist churches have been around for centuries starting in the early 1660s with the first Baptist church of Providence, Rhode Island and has been spreading tremendously over the years. This Baptist Christian denomination in the United States consists of 33 million Baptists with 16 million belonging to the Southern Baptist convention which is the largest confederation of Baptists. Immanuel Baptist church was founded on February 10, 1935 near the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee. This church was named Immanuel after the community of Baptists got together and decided that this was an appropriate name for the church meaning “God with us”. In 1935, a group of 34 Christians from Tallahassee’s largest Southern Baptist church at the time, First Baptist church, prayed for a way to form another church. They formed a neighboring church on the corner of Boulevard and St Augustine streets. However, this wasn’t Immanuel’s first building at the time, in 1885 Immanuel purchased his first building for $25 per month from a vacant African American Methodist mission. This church was so old that it had no air conditioning, heater, or running water. Later on came the Immanuel Baptist church in 1935 in Tallahassee where Baptists from all over Tallahassee would come to pray, causing this church to expand and locate to other locations.
Baptists from all over Tallahassee were needing more places to worship so they decided to build more churches around the Tallahassee area. After World War II, this old wooden church needed to increase its space and needed more room for Sunday worship, so they built a new church in 1947. At this time, there still wasn’t much Baptist churches in the Tallahassee area, so in the 1950’s Immanuel built the Parkway Baptist church on Indian head acres, and the First Heights Baptist church on Tharpe street, as well as the Celebration Baptist in Killearn. The building of these new churches was causing the members of the old Immanuel Baptist church to decrease in size because they would go to other locations that may be near them or they may like better. The members of Immanuel’s church were very close and they were now being separated due to these new churches. Immanuel decided to create a new church on 2351 Mahan Drive in Tallahassee in 1976 which is the current location of Immanuel Baptist church today. This new church impacted all of the old and new members to become very close knit to this new church and as of today it is a very close community of Baptists that attend here.
Due to all of the new members of this church, the Sunday school class attendance and the church services have doubled in size demanding an expansion of the building. Immanuel provided an additional contemporary worship service, as well as his traditional and classic service. The traditional service has choirs and orchestras that play throughout the service, whereas the contemporary has rock oriented bands, vocalists, and a contemporary choir that keeps you really interacted and entertained. These services as well as the youth groups and Sunday schools were growing immensely in size causing Immanuel to purchase more property across the church on Concord Street where members could bring their kids and have enough space for them to learn about God. The building itself, apart from the youth group building, was still not big enough to accompany all of the members of the church. At the start of this decade, Immanuel came with a “20/20 vision” plan to expand the building for more people to reach Christ. This is a 20-year plan and it was to create additional parking and construct the fellowship hall that was created in August 2012. They still are wanting to expand the building and need to get more funds by going on mission trips and are planning to partner with Builders for Christ in North America.
Baptists have many beliefs having to do with the scriptures and God the holy spirit and how they believed the holy sprit is the spirit of god fully divine. They also believed man was the special creation of God, that salvation involves redemption of whole man, election is the gracious purpose of God, and the first day of the week is god’s day, as well as many more that are contrary to Baptist beliefs. At Immanuel Baptist church, they also had three main core values they followed, these are: dynamic worship, relevant small group bible study, and intentional outreach. Dynamic worship includes going to one of either the traditional, contemporary, or blended worship sessions. The relevant small group bible study is necessary for people to build relationships with people the same age as them and to help them with spiritual growth and form healthy relationships. The intentional outreach is for people to seek out those who aren’t connected to god, and help them be a part of Christ.
Inside of Immanuel Baptist church consists of a room with pews and a stage that Senior pastor, Rich L Kincl performs his sermons. Pastor Kincl became a pastor in 1996 after earning his doctor of ministry degree from Midwestern theological seminary in Kansas City, and a P.H. D. in higher education at Florida State University. He has served churches in Arkansas and Texas and 3,000 more people have joined Immanuel Baptist after he has became a pastor. Kincl has had such a positive impact on this church and he is a main reason why the church needs to expand.
Immanuel Baptist church has always been a major role in the community of Tallahassee. From having the first building with no heater, air conditioning, or running water in 1885, to creating a building for worship in 1947 spreading to other locations for Baptists in Tallahassee, and finally developing the current location for Immanuel Baptist church in 1976. The members of this church have been loyal, dedicated, and faithful to Immanuel Baptist and is still continuing to grow with over 2,900 who worship, thanks to the help from senior pastor Rich Kincl who claims the “one thing that will never change (at Immanuel) is weekly visitation”. This church has grown and changed over the years, but still holds the same core values and rejoices that we are Immanuel, meaning “God with us”.