Emmanuel has long been known as “the Church of the people,” where “rich and poor, high and low, great and humble all worship and work together as friends.” Today we are a Parish family of 218 active members with 85 pledging units. We offer two Eucharists on Sunday morning, and one on Wednesday evening. All baptized Christians are welcome at the altar.
Emmanuel began in 1841 as a mission of Newport’s Trinity Church, when three women parishioners recognized the need to offer free space for worship to people who could not afford to rent or own a pew. Meeting originally in private homes, they soon purchased an unused Baptist Church. In 1852, the growing congregation was admitted into Diocesan Convention as Emmanuel Free Church. We owe our current building, a magnificent Tudor Gothic Revival structure on the National Register of Historic Places, to the generosity of Natalie Bayard Brown, the widow of John Nicholas Brown, Sr. She had it built in memory of her late husband more than a century ago. The Browns’ descendants still worship here.
Because Emmanuel welcomed everyone, with or without money to buy a pew, the Parish developed around the needs of all its members, from mill workers, domestic servants and fishermen to teachers, merchants, lawyers and bankers. The similar diversity of today’s congregation — a microcosm of our island-wide community — is proof that this tradition of inclusiveness and welcome continues.