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 some 200 active members. We offer two Eucharists on Sunday morning. All baptized Christians are welcome at the altar.
Emmanuel began in 1841 as a mission of Newport’s Historic Trinity Church, when three women parishioners recognized the need to offer free space for worship to people who could not afford to purchase or rent a pew at Trinity Church. Meeting originally in private homes, they soon purchased an unused Baptist Church. In 1852, the growing congregation was admitted into Diocesan Convention as Immanuel Free Church. We owe our current building, a Gothic Revival structure by famed architect Ralph Adams Cram, and 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 Brown descendants still worship here.
Because Emmanuel Church welcomed everyone, the Parish developed around the needs of all its members, from mill workers, domestic servants and fishermen to teachers, merchants, lawyers and bankers. With similar diversity in today’s congregation — a microcosm of our island-wide community — there is proof that the tradition of inclusiveness and welcome continues.