Emory United Methodist Church was founded in 1832 as Emory Methodist Episcopal Church South. Prior to the Civil War, it served a primarily wealthy white congregation with 13 "colored members." During the war the church became a hospital and barracks for nearby Fort Stevens. In the 1960s its membership diminished as many white families left the Brightwood neighborhood, but due to the efforts of black church members, the church rebounded. Pastors and members made the church community-centered, creating a "church beyond the walls."