Emmanuel United Church is among the oldest congregations in Waterloo having started before 1850. Originally Evangelical United Brethren, Emmanuel joined the United Church of Canada in 1968. Our congregation has its roots in an Evangelical tent meeting held in 1848 on the eastern outskirts of the Village of Waterloo. Several churches in the area trace their origins to that meeting including Zion United, Trinity United, Calvary United, Bridgeport United and Olivet United.
Our first church was located in a house on Central Street, which was donated to the church on the condition that church members finish the interior work. A second church was built at our current location in 1870 and replaced in 1905 to the larger sanctuary that we use presently. “Emmanuel Hall” opened in 1938 and included the Hearth Room and the Bamboo Room. The Hearth Room was meant to be a church parlour or living room, suitable for smaller worship gatherings or chapel-style services.
The Christian Education Wing was opened in 1963 to include Sunday School and Youth Group rooms on the ground floor as well as the Fellowship Hall on the second floor. The Christian Education Wing was the birthplace of the Emmanuel Day Care an outreach project of the church to provide affordable daycare to the community. The first round of accessibility (lift, washrooms and ramps) was carried out in the late 1980s as part of a significant renovation effort throughout the building. The Labyrinth in the Fellowship Hall was dedicated in 2014. Emmanuel also became an affirming church in line with the United Church of Canada.
The sanctuary is built “in the round”, a form common with churches of the period that wanted to emphasize closeness and equality among the congregation. With beautiful original woodwork and stained glass windows, the sanctuary has one of the few original pipe organs remaining in a Waterloo church. Unique to halls of its size and age are wooden purloins (support beams) and the wooden ceiling. The church and the former Carnegie Library are prominent Macgregor/Albert Heritage Neighbourhood landmarks.