Our Story

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.

Evangelical camp meeting led to Evangelical Church with German roots.

United Church of Canada formed as a merger of several Protestant denominations.

Evangelical church joined the United Brethren in Christ to form Evangelical United Brethren.

Emmanuel joined the United Church of Canada.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge the territory upon which we gather. For thousands of years, the Neutral, Anishnawbe, and Haudenosaunee have sought to walk gently on this land. We seek a relationship based in honour and respect with the Original Peoples of this land.

An LGBTQ pride flag waving outside of Emmanuel United Church.


Emmanuel United is an Affirming church. Being an Affirming church means that Emmanuel is a part of a network of faith communities that proudly declare the full inclusion of all people.


Emmanuel is an outreach-oriented congregation, financially supporting many local charities and has a long tradition of providing community, shelter and hope in Waterloo through outreach, worship and fellowship. The Emmanuel Church property hosts a variety of faith communities as well as other community groups on a weekly basis. We continue to look outside our walls to be a engaged members within the community…



Reverend Brenda Torrie smiling with a natural brown background

Rev. Brenda Torrie


Brenda Torrie is an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church. She gained some air under her preaching wings as a lay member at Emmanuel in the 1990’s. After the Torrie family emigrated to sunny Southern California in 2000, she felt called to ministry in 2005.
Brenda studied Philosophy, and Religious Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California and studied for her Master of Divinity at Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California. Brenda has been serving churches in ministry leadership for seven and a half years. Brenda is delighted to come alongside the people of Emmanuel, serving the wider Waterloo community.

Brenda Woodall smiling in front of a white backdrop.

Brenda Woodall

Seniors Co-ordinator

Brenda Woodall has been an Ordained United Church Minister for 30 years. She has ministered in Churches in Southern Ontario and has been in a couple of Chaplaincy positions.  She has been the Senior’s Coordinator at Emmanuel for 10 years, caring for the senior membership through visitation, counselling, and a monthly luncheon. Brenda sees it as a  privilege to serve this demographic as they are the elders, the history-keepers and the foundation of the Emmanuel United Church community.

Nancy Martin, Music Director, Sitting at the organ.

Nancy Martin

Music Director

Nancy’s background includes a Bachelor of Music from Wilfrid Laurier University. She has been guiding music ministry here at Emmanuel since 2005. Currently Nancy shepherds both the mixed adult and men’s choirs, as well as the inter-generational instrumental group.

A woman smiling and standing in front of a grassy field.

Laura Mutton

Office Administrator

Laura grew up in Kitchener and has been an active member of Parkminster United Church in Waterloo her entire life. She has a BA from St. Jerome’s University at UW and a MEd in Social Justice Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at UofT. She joined the Emmanuel community as Office Manager in December 2019.

David McGinnis standing with his arms crossed.

David McGinnis


David was a software developer for almost 30 years. In addition to working at Emmanuel, he performs ecoEnergy audits for Natural Resources Canada as well as home inspections. He and his wife have a family of five daughters and one grandson. He has been an avid curler for 46 seasons.

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