Where It All Began
EMMANUEL TEMPLE CHRISTIAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Rev. Dr. James E. Markham, Pastor
The beginning was a vision in 1928, when Elder G.L. Hayes was appointed to establish a Mission in the Victor Valley. This Mission became known as Victorville Colored Methodist Church.
The building was a small wooden structure that was located at the corner of 2nd and “E” Streets. This structure was donated by Mrs. Carrie Story.
The Mission remained existent for several years. The Congregation experienced some growth, and also a decline in membership during the war.
Very little history is available for the years 1928 through 1947. However, the Mission continued with the use of Circuit Ministers.
In 1948, Rev. and Mrs. E.D. Nederville and sons were sent to revive and strengthen the Mission. The membership began to grow, and it has been said that the growth was the result of Rev. Nederville visiting the local bars, restaurants, and any place that people gathered. This was the year that the congregation became participants in the San Bernardino County Fair. The menu was pit bar-b-que (an actual pit did exist), and homemade apple pie. In later years, a new hot item was added to the menu, the famous pig-in-the-blanket. This was not the German version, but a battered wrapped hot dog on a stick that was deep fried. This was the recipe of Mrs. Mary Johnson, known to all as Grandma Johnson.
A year of changes was experienced at the church in 1949. Permission was granted by the Conference to purchase a larger building. This property was also located on “E” Street. The initial finances came from Mrs. Lucy Thompson, a member of the Victorville Church of God in Christ. A name was chosen at this time, Emmanuel Temple Colored Methodist Church. The first choir was organized. At this time, Rev. Nederville and family were reassigned. Rev. L.V. Smiley was assigned to Emmanuel Temple, and Mrs. Bertha Warren served as his assistant. Other Migrant-Circuit Ministers served in the years that followed.
Ministerial appointments were getting hard to fill in the Desert Community. It was so far from Los Angeles, it was too hot, too windy, and sometimes too cold. Someone with a higher calling saw fit to have this vision continued in Victorville.
Rev. T.P. Lee accepted the challenge and came to the Victor Valley by way of the Greyhound Bus Line. He would arrive on Saturday afternoon, and remain until Monday due to the schedule of Greyhound; no service on Sunday afternoon to Los Angeles.
During the period from 1952 to the early sixties, under the leadership of Rev. Lee, the following boards and auxiliaries were established: the Board of Trustees; Steward and Stewardess Boards; Usher Board; Benevolence Committee, the Women’s Missionary Society; Lay Council; Christian Youth Fellowship; Pastor’s Aid; and a Youth Choir. This information was taken from an old Recording Steward’s Report from the Annual Conference Report of August 1961, under the leadership of Bishop J.C. Allen. Conference Assessments were often paid from Rev. Lee’s pockets.
The church soon became known and active throughout the District. It was during this time that the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church became the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
Rev. Lee continued with the community involvement that started with Rev. Nederville. This strong commitment led to the fellowship with Rev. Hansen and the Church of the Valley Presbyterian Church; Rev. Huckaby and Armstrong Memorial Methodist Church; Rev. Charles Anderson and First Missionary Baptist Church; Elder Spearman and the Church of God in Christ, and St. Timothy Episcopal Church. It was through this fellowship that an Annual Vacation Bible School flourished, with classes held at all of the above mentioned churches. That program continued until the early eighties. It was through this fellowship that in 1969, that Armstrong Memorial became aware of the situation with Emmanuel Temple and problems with the building. Rev. Huckaby offered the use of their building. Armstrong’s worship service was held at 11:00 a.m. and Emmanuel Temple’s worship service was held at 1:00 p.m.
Another vision was rapidly becoming a reality when again permission from the Conference allowed Emmanuel Temple to purchase property. Armstrong Memorial and Church of the Valley, not only continued the spiritual fellowship, they became financial supporters of Emmanuel Temple. Mrs. Lee was an avid participant and a hard worker with the bake sales and bazaars. Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Garrison pledged and paid their tithes to Emmanuel Temple. A male organization from Church of the Valley made a monthly contribution of $300. Mrs. Webb also started a fundraiser by selling chicken dinners to the members of Armstrong Memorial and Emmanuel Temple shared in this venture.
Through much prayer, the donations and fundraisers paid off. Rev. Lee and the members were able to purchase a one-acre parcel on Stoddard Wells Road. Preparation was rapidly moving forward until the plans were submitted to the County. Things came to a standstill. Members were told that they could not move forward because one acre could not support a church and ample parking. This news did not discourage this group for they were on a mission, God’s mission. Through much prayer and undying faith in God, Rev. Lee and the members were able to purchase an additional four acres. Ground breaking ceremonies were held in November, 1972. The prayers of the faithful were answered in April 1973, when worship services began in a new edifice.
Rev. T.P. and Mrs. Lee remained at Emmanuel Temple Church for another three years. In August of 1975, he received another appointment within the District. Rev. Lee served under Bishop Allen, Bishop Curry and Bishop Cummings.
In September of 1975, Rev. Price was the new appointee, and he served the area for one year.
Rev. Chester B. and Mrs. Tollette and son arrived as the new First Family in September of 1976. Rev. Tollette was the son of a CME minister and a newly ordained minister. This was his first appointment. His organizational skills were soon realized throughout the church.
With his knowledge and commitment to God and the CME Doctrine, Emmanuel Temple soon experienced the use of Exhorters. The Evangelism Department was established. It was through this department that a bus was purchased and a Busing Ministry was started that included a Prison Ministry at Chino. The bus was also used by organizations within the church to further the cultural experiences in the community by attending the arts, musicals and plays in the Los Angeles area. Class leaders were established and used extensively in the Church. New Members’ Classes were implemented along with Wednesday Night Bible Study.
A group of women did the initial landscaping at the church along with the weekly cleaning. This energetic group decided they needed a name, the name chosen was the Willing Workers. Thinking that this name was something new, they soon learned that this was an organization within the CME church. This group started the Annual Easter Breakfast, and a strong fellowship with the other Willing Workers within the District.
With the vision of becoming debt free, and the “Together We Can” attitude, Rev. Tollette and the members were able to pay off the mortgage within six years. This was done through raffles; chicken sales, chitterling sales, bar-b-que dinners; and bake sales. In 1982, a Mortgage Burning Ceremony was held. Rev. Chester Tollette served under Bishop Cummings.
In September, 1982, Emmanuel Temple experienced another new beginning. Rev. Johnson was appointed, but the Lord called him home prior to coming to Emmanuel Temple. We were left without a minister. The Lord had the master plan. A call was received from Presiding Elder L.J. Harper saying that he had a young man that he felt would be perfect for Emmanuel Temple, and added “he lives closer to Victorville”.
Rev. James E. Markham and his family arrived at Emmanuel Temple. Another first, Rev. Markham had completed all of the requirements of the CME Church in December, and was able to carry out all the rituals and services of the church.
Rev. Markham, being a man who truly believes in tithing and leading by example, curtailed (stopped) all dinner sales, the raffles, and baked sales. Officers continued to hold dual positions within the organizational structure of the CME Church, something that was quite common among the small congregations.
The old adage: “Behind every good man is a good woman”. Well, behind this good man was a beautiful, faithful God fearing woman. Mrs. Markham revitalized the Evangelism Department with the Pew Rally, and the I Brought One concept. She started the Prayer Clock with prayer partners, and the Dear Dorcas Newsletter. A rose was needed to help complete the heavenly garden, and Mrs. Markham became a part of that garden in heaven.
A man with a vision, a true believer in prayer and in the belief that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. The membership began to grow and soon the building was too small. Through prayer and faith, Rev. Markham set out with the congregation to build a larger edifice. Through pledges from members, and contributions from friends and loved ones, this vision became a reality. In June, 1993, dedication services were held with a grand march into the new facility that included Bishop Brown and other District supporters. This facility is also debt free.
Over the many years of dedication and service, the following boards, have been established: Friday Night Prayer Vigil; Friday Night Live; Men and Women’s Fellowship; Cell Groups; Tape Ministry; Prayer Breakfast; the Annual Picnic; Praise Dancers; Boys and Girls Scouts; Boys and Girls Basketball Teams; Clothing and Food Ministry; Women of Grace led by Rev. Dr. Janice Davis, which is now the Women’s Ministry; at one time five-active choirs; Early Morning and Noon Prayer; Senior Citizens’ Ministry; early Morning Worship; and the Young Adult Ministry.
The visions continue and will become a part of the future of Emmanuel Temple: 3,000 members, 300 cell groups and 30 powerful ministers.
Although most of the original members have gone home to be with
be with the Lord, there are several members that were a vital part of the visions of four ministers and were instrumental in getting the information for this historical occasion — Mrs. Velma Hubbard, Mrs. Claudia Atkinson, Mrs. Evelyn Butler, and Mr. Theodore Smith.
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. This Psalm is “A Song of Degrees of David”. It has been called a Psalm of Brotherhood. As believers, we are told to endeavor to. . .keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
And remember Together We Can and God is Good All the Time and All the Time God is Good.
God Bless you.