It was a chilly morning, Sunday December 03, 1989, the vision of the Reverend Nathaniel and Linda Knowles became a reality. A group of 14 persons, 7 adults and 7 children met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Knowles, our initial meeting place and the second service was held at the Masonic Hall (Delta Lodge 519) in Deerfield Beach. Rev. and Mrs. Knowles, Missionary Inoris Poitier, Mr. & Mrs. Gary (Elizabeth) Mitchell, and Mr. & Mrs. Odest (Juanita) Howard, these were the adult founding members of Emmanuel Christian Center (ECC).
History of Emmanuel Christian Center Ministries, Inc.
The members looked to him as their new spiritual leader as he looked to Christ for direction.
Our name, Emmanuel, was given to our Pastor from the scripture, Matthew 1:23 Emmanuel being interpreted, “God with us”.
We were a church on the move. The Lord added to the church as He saw fit. God proved His present with us from the very beginning. We held services at the Masonic Hall for three (3) months, from there we moved to 219 South Dixie Highway after God touched the heart of the owner to let us use the building for 10 months.
Our First Officers:
Rev. Nathaniel B. Knowles, Pastor
Min. Gary Mitchell, Youth Minister
Dec. Garrett Canady and Dec. Odest Howard, Deacons
Missionary Inoris Poitier, Sunday School Supt.
Sis. Linda Knowles, Church Clerk
While on Dixie Highway, the Lord added greatly to the body as we reached out to those in our immediate area. The adult Sunday School class would meet outside under a tree so that the word would be heard by those not use to the “traditional church”. A hot breakfast was served one Sunday out of each month to who so ever would come.
Our first two (2) revivals were held outside under the stars by then Evangelist Joel Pratt of Miami; souls would come from far and near as the Evangelist’s voice bellowed through the gigantic speakers. His voice could literally be heard across the city and many lives were changed during those revivals.
Our 2nd Sunday fellowship was birth from our 2nd church revival. The Lord spoke to the hearts of Pastor Knowles, Pastor Willie McHenry, and Pastor Michael Harvey on the outside of the church as He spoke the same message to the wives on the inside of the church.
Our Sunday School grew rapidly. Our Superintendent Missionary Inoris Poitier told us that, “the Sunday School was the foundation of the church and when the Sunday School grows the church would grow too.”
In December 1990 Emmanuel moved to 175 West Hillsboro Blvd, Deerfield Beach, FL occupying one bay and then quickly expanding to 2 adjoining bays. Our Sunday School was foundational. We held plays, hosted weddings, christened babies, held revivals, etc. There, many lives were changed and transformed. The youth outnumbered the adults. It was at this location that Emmanuel truly began its member expansion through families. Our Sunday School was generous and effective with amazing teachers such as Bro. Mike Johnson, Sis. Linda Knowles Worthy, Missionary Robinson, Sis. Delores Penn, First Lady Knowles, Sis. Debra Calcote, Bro. Garrett Canady, and Bro. Odest Howard.
In March of 1994, the church purchased a 4000 square ft., 2 story building located at 216 SW 2nd Court, Deerfield Beach, FL; our present home. There was much renovation needed. We worshipped as we worked; having service in one portion for the building while converting another space into our sanctuary. The garage was converted to the foyer, offices, and a restroom. The upstairs was converted to a fellowship area and classrooms.
In the spring of 1997, Pastor Knowles was introduced to the idea of helping first time Juvenile offenders to get their lives “Back on Track”. The “Back on Track” project was housed at Emmanuel for 16 years. During that time, over 1500 youth between the ages of 8 and 18 were mentored, counseled, and assisted with community service projects. Parenting sessions, family and individual counseling was also a part of that program.
The Man in the Mirror program: A gender specific prevention program for female students. This program was held at Emmanuel, Deerfield Middle and Deerfield High Schools, as well as Upper room Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
CARD program: An after school program serving youth from Elementary to High school which offered tutoring, mentoring, and family counseling.
F.A.S.T. (Families Achieving Success Together) was a family strengthening program assisting families in areas needed to become successful.
Through these programs employment because available to members and community members.
Funding for the programs came through Emmanuel, Children Service Council (CSC), City of Deerfield Beach, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF), Jim Moran Foundation, and private donors.
ECC also served as a satellite food pantry for Gateway Community Outreach.
In 2005, our name was officially changed to, Emmanuel Christian Center Ministries, Incorporated. Our choirs, (The Voices of Emmanuel, Seasoned) were directed by Sis. Jounice K. Green. Our Dance and Arts were choreographed by Sis. Debra Hanna and Sis. Janna Hayes (Chinnery). Sis. Debra also directed the Children of Emmanuel choir. Our male chorus, The Men of Emmanuel and our young males group, The Untouchables were in fact, untouchable.
During that same year South Florida was hit with Hurricane Wilma and many were displaced because for the Hurricane. Emmanuel was one of the non-profits in Broward County granted funds through The Red Cross to assist families needing assistance with housing, food, and utilities.
Although many programs have been implemented, our main goal is to win the loss at any cost; to equip the saints to be laborers