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EMMANUEL – A brief history

It was a Monday evening when 30 persons met together in a home on Paramus Road near Ridgewood Avenue to organize a new church.  The date was November 16, 1891.  Eight days later, at a meeting held in the Reformed Church of Ridgewood, a council of other Baptist churches recognized the new group as a duly constituted Baptist church.

The founding of the new church had grown out of a series of house prayers meetings which had begun on July 15, 1891, and a series of Sunday School. Classes held on Sunday afternoons in a barn on Brookside Avenue beginning on October 4, 1891.

Three names were considered for the new church.  The name “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us,” received nine votes.  Eight people voted for the name “Calvary Baptist,” while seven preferred “First Baptist.”

On July 17, 1892, the new church held its first baptismal service, with two candidates being immersed in Ho-Ho-Kus Brook.

For several months, the church services were held in the homes of members.  In December, 1891, a lot at the corner of East Ridgewood Avenue and Hope Street was purchased for $1200.  A frame building was soon erected at a cost of $3,028.  This building was first occupied on June 19, 1892, with 56 persons attending the service. A formal dedication was held on November 13, 1892, just one year after the founding of the church.

The present church plant still occupies the same corner, but the original frame structure has been replaced by three buildings.  The oldest, a lovely stone structure, was erected in 1911, when the congregation was twenty years old.  The others were added in 1927 and 1957 respectively.

Emmanuel was well-known to the community and in the wider fellowship for its open-mindedness, its leadership in social action, its warm evangelical spirit, and mission programs. The church has had a succession of outstanding pastors, as well as many of the denomination’s top lay leaders.  For many years, when American Baptist headquarters were located in New York City, a number of denominational executives were members of Emmanuel. Although never one of the largest of American Baptist Churches, Emmanuel had consistently been among the leading churches in terms of denominational participation, ecumenical activity and involvement in public life.

A strong interest in international affairs has characterized the church for several decades.  Involvement in missions is also a major part of its progress.  That involvement has been expressed in such activities as a youth tour to Haiti, sponsorship of two resettled refugee families from Indochina, food collection and distribution, ongoing relationship with nearby urban Baptist churches, correspondence with special interest missionaries and regular mission study programs.

Good music, meaningful worship, warm fellowship and a strong educational program help to keep Emmanuel alive and well.  As the congregation looks ahead to its futures, its members will continue in the traditions set for them by those thirty pioneers of 1891, who in courage and faith chose the name “God with us” as a witness and testimony to their experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit.



Please click on the following link to read the First Emmanuel History Book:  Emmanuel Baptist Church    1891 – 1941


There are 19 different stained glass windows throughout the Church Sanctuary and Chapel. Each stained glass window has a story and explanation about the life of Jesus Christ. Please read The Story of Our Stained Glass Windows.

The Great Commission