Emanuel (Bridesburg) United Church of Christ was founded by German and Swiss immigrants who settled in the heavily-industrialized borough of Bridesburg, which in 1854 had been annexed to the City of Philadelphia. A nucleus of 34 immigrants of the Reformed faith gathered in 1857. For four years the group was served by traveling German Lutheran and Methodist pastors. Under the leadership of the Rev. J. G. Neuber, Emanuel’s first German Reformed pastor, Emanuel Church was formally organized in 1861. Our church laid the cornerstone of our present building in 1863, and the building was dedicated in June, 1864. Also in 1863, under the leadership of then-pastor the Rev. Emanuel Boehringer, a home for children orphaned by the Civil War was established under the name of “The Orphans’ Home of the Shepherd of the Lambs.” This orphanage, located originally in South Philadelphia and then for several years in Bridesburg, was relocated to Womelsdorf, PA in 1870, and is now known as Bethany Children’s Home. Our congregation values our historic connection to Bethany Children’s Home, and the relationship between Emanuel Church and Bethany Children’s Home continues to this day.
Emanuel Church recently celebrated our 155th anniversary. We offer a “Dinner Church” on the first Wednesday of each month, and our ladies organize a “Women’s Wednesday” program on the third Wednesday of each month. We are a counseling site for the Second Chance Kinship Network, which helps at-risk children and youth by arranging kinship care. We have an annual “Backpack Sunday” before the start of each school year, and donate school supplies to Bridesburg Elementary School. Our fall and spring auctions raise funds for the maintenance of our cemetery. We regularly respond to genealogical inquiries about our cemetery, and through those inquiries have learned that our small church has family connections from coast to coast.
For more information, please visit our Facebook page and our website: emanuelphila.org .