Our church began in 1904 as a desire in the hearts of Rev. H. P. Adams and wife, Carrie, to evangelize to the south side of Salisbury. Their first services were held in a tent, and the Lord sent a gracious revival that began to change hearts in the community. So the church was quickly organized and a frame building was erected. This was first known as the Apostolic Holiness Church, but later became the Pilgrim Holiness Church. The original building burned down in 1907 and was replaced with a cement block structure which stood until 1974 when it was raised to clear a right of way for Eastern Shore Drive, one of the main passages through the city. While Rev. Adams was responsible for the beginning of the church, he was followed by a number of pastors before Rev. Paul Miller came in 1968.
In 1968, a merger with the Wesleyan Methodist Church materialized and we became the Wesleyan Church. Later, it was voted and agreed upon to add “Emmanuel,” thus renaming us the Emmanuel Wesleyan Church. 12 acres of land was purchased on Route 50 and Shamrock Drive, where our Church is presently located. The first sanctuary was built followed by a parsonage and all-purpose building which has remained in the same location. In 1982, Rev. Paul Miller led the church through a building program and added a larger, 500-seat sanctuary. Rev. Miller was pastor for 17 years before resigning.
In 1986, Rev. Tom Bunting accepted the call to come to Emmanuel. There were 94 people in attendance his first Sunday. The Vice-Chairman of the Local Board Administration told Rev. Bunting that they wanted the church to grow and that whatever it took, they would support for growth. All avenues of soul-winning and growth took place by equipping teams to reach our city. In 1987, the church purchased 3 buses to begin a bus ministry and many souls began to get saved inside and outside of the church. Sunday School began to grow rapidly and children and youth ministries were very vibrant. A bus was converted into a Puppet Mobile which went out on Saturdays to minister in the inner city. EWC received District Awards for having the fastest growing Sunday School each year from 1987-1992. With the growth, there was a need for more room. So we remodeled the original sanctuary to make room for Sunday School Classes. It was soon filled and we had to expand the building again in 1991. There were also other methods challenging our people to bring friends and family to church such as: Friend Day, gospel groups, guest speakers, yearly tent meetings on our grounds, etc. The women’s ministry began to flourish as ladies invited their unsaved friends to monthly dinners held at the Civic Center. The men’s ministry grew similarly with monthly breakfast meetings. In 1992, we added another worship service on Sunday mornings to accommodate growth. Also, in the same year we produced our first musical drama which has continued through the years and thousands of people have attended.
In 1994, we expanded the fellowship building with classrooms and larger floor space for larger gatherings. In 1996, Emmanuel began the process of purchasing an additional 18 acres of land, joining the property and began the process of building our third sanctuary. In March of 1997, during the construction of our new sanctuary, a storm blew the steel down which caused a major set-back, threatening to keep us from moving forward in ministry. But in 1999, we pushed ahead and purchased “The Living Christmas Tree” even though our sanctuary was not complete, and we held the big Christmas Drama at the Civic Center. Christmas, Easter, Friend Day, and all of our big services at the Civic Center were well attended which helped keep the vision of the church alive as we waited for the completion of our sanctuary.
Dedication of the new 2,500-seat sanctuary was held September 29th, 2002. Opening the new facility brought great enthusiasm to our church and our city. We have utilized our facility to have large outreach events to draw our community in. The church continued to grow and many new ministries were created.
In 2014, preparation began for the transition to our new Lead Pastor. On May 1st, 2016, Rev. Mark Bunting, son of Pastors Tom and Janice Bunting, transitioned to the position of Lead Pastor. It was a great day of celebration as the church recognized Pastors Tom and Janice Bunting for their 30 years of ministry. The church was also enthusiastic about the future with Lead Pastor Mark Bunting. Since the transition, the church has seen a great increase. He is an anointed preacher and has a fresh, passionate vision for the church.
Part of that vision is to reproduce campuses--"One church with multiple locations." On May 8th, 2016, Emmanuel Wesleyan Church launched its first campus in Fruitland, Maryland. Rev. Dana Stauffer, daughter of Tom and Janice Bunting, was appointed to the new Fruitland campus. Rev. Dana's zeal for ministry is quite evident as she focuses on lives transformed and church growth. Through the years, the Lord has given great blessings to Emmanuel Wesleyan Church. He is so good to all. Great is Thy Faithfulness from generation to generation.