Emmanuel United Church
In 1950 the United Church launched an extension campaign; Emmanuel was the first church built in Algoma Presbytery under this program. The congregation grew from an interested group of parents forming a Sunday School in October, 1951 to meet in a school in the area. Mrs. I. Punkari, one of those parents and still a member of Emmanuel, best exemplifies the spirit of dedication present in the core of Emmanuel’s fellowship.
On March 20, 1952 the new congregation, named Emmanuel, was officially constituted into The United Church of Canada. Twenty-seven people formed the first membership that was added to the pastoral charge of All People’s United and Bayview Church, under the leadership of Rev. Alex Rice, Rev. Paul Morris, Paul Newman, Rev Gillman, Rev. D. Deas and Rev. D. Hinton.
For a time Emmanuel was united with Bruce Hill and Grace United forming a three-point charge. On July 1, 1963 Emmanuel and Grace became a two-point charge. In 1964 Emmanuel again separated to become a single-point charge.
Housing development in the eastern suburbs brought a steady increase to the “White Church on the Highway” with a seating capacity of only one hundred. Two schools as well as the church building were being used to house worship and Church School by the mid-sixties. Again Emmanuel’s congregation was faced with the task of building a church that would meet the needs of the growing community. Rev. Jack Beaton, minister at the time of expansion, worked unceasingly and provided the leadership required for this challenge.
On August 4, 1968 official sod-turning ceremonies were held on the property on the corner of Boundary Road and Bennett Boulevard (not in existence at the time). Difficulties in contracting slowed down the actual construction. The new building seated three hundred and was dedicated on March 8, 1970.
Upon Rev. Jack Beaton’s leaving, Rev. Frederick Lloyd became the minister, to serve until 1981. It was in that year that a former member of Emmanuel, Mrs. Judy Harris, was ordained.
In the summer of 1981 Mr. James Izawa, a student minister at the time, was placed at Emmanuel for a while, before the arrival of The Rev. Richard Hawley in July of 1982; he served the congregation until the spring of 1985. Rev. Donald Harry arrived in July of that year.
1983 marked the year of the congregation becoming self-supporting, and the final payment was made on the mortgage of the manse.
In January, 1984 a unified board was introduced and is still the structure under which the board operates. In the fall of that year, 34 years of worship were celebrated with the Annual Congregational Dinner.
Major renovations were made to the church manse before the arrival of Don Harry, and within a year of his arrival a new roof was put on the church and totally paid for!
The present membership stands at 196 members and 134 adherents. The church library has expanded, as have other areas in Christian Education. The Em-Teens are a continuing vibrant study and recreational group. The Sunday School is increasing and has been using learning centers for some time in programming. A congregational newsletter (six time a year) keeps members abreast of church activities.
The ladies and men of the congregation have helped at the Blessed Sacrament Soup Kitchen in downtown Sault Ste. Marie and at church services at the Davey Home for seniors. The United church Women are continuing with congregational suppers, bazaars, bake sales, etc. and add greatly to the present solvent position of the treasury.
Emmanuel has participated in the area Christmas Cheer since its inception, and has served as a “depot” for the last few years. The congregation has been included in ecumenical services since the early 80’s with other denominations in the east end of the city.
In mid-1986 Emmanuel United Church learned that a prefabricated building situated at the Sault Ste. Marie Federal Airport was slated to become surplus to the requirements of the Federal Government. Overtures were made to the Airport manager and to Mr. James Kelleher, M.P. Eventually the building was offered to Emmanuel at no charge, on the condition that the structure be moved from the Airport prior to the end of 1986.
Largely using volunteer labour, the building was dismantled and moved in five sections to its new home at Emmanuel. It was then reassembled. Interior finishing and connection of services are slated for the spring of 1987. The building is approximately 2,500sq. ft. in area, is equipped with washrooms, is partly carpeted, and is divided into a number of rooms.
The people of Emmanuel are looking forward to refurbishing their “new” facilities to meet the expanding needs of the Sunday School and other Christian Education and Development groups, as well as continuing to meet the challenge in serving as a community of faith in the east end of Sault Ste. Marie.