Gathering the nations to reach the nations
Immanuel Baptist Church was originally Alexander Street Baptist Church, established in 1866 with a membership of 27. Twenty two years later, the congregation had expanded sufficiently to require a larger building. A new church was built in 1888 on the corner of Jarvis and Wellesley and the name Immanuel Baptist Church was chosen.
Time of Decision
By 1963 the congregation had dwindled as people had moved to the suburbs and were no longer wanting to travel downtown. The church required a lot of repairs, there was no parking in the area and there was a sense that they had to either move or close. They had historically planted many smaller mission points that later turned into churches. This time, instead of planting a new church they chose to become one and looked for an area where there was no Convention Baptist Church.
As families were moving north, they decided to look for a suitable location and discovered that Pleasant View Church was being expropriated for the widening of Woodbine Avenue. The two churches decided to merge. Dr. Lewis preached in both churches for 6 months as the new building was being erected and in 1967 they joined together at the Finch Avenue site. At this point the congregation was a very mono-ethnic (Anglo) church family.
In 1974, Rev. Samuel Baxter was called from the Maritimes to be the pastor. He made a very deliberate decision to focus on multi-cultural ministry. The change did not come easily, but it was an intentional move and today’s multicultural mix, which we celebrate, is a testimony to the legacy that he left. The first woman Deacon was elected during Sam Baxter’s time.
In 1980, a Vision for Vitality day was held to discern the direction God was leading Immanuel. The focus that emerged was threefold: first to Love God, then to be His Body and then to do His work. In 1981, Rev. William Crump came as pastor. One of the significant changes under Bill Crump was the move to a strong music program and a blended worship style. Iris Huang came on as music director. During Bill Crump’s time at Immanuel, an extension was built to provide more space and Curt Erb was hired as the Youth Pastor in 1987. Very soon after, the congregation mourned Bill’s death from cancer. Curt partnered with Rob Patterson to carry on.
In 1989 Paul Pearce became our pastor. During this time the church structure was changed from a Board of Deacons and Board of Management to incorporate the two boards into one Council. In 1994 Sharon Kvill became the first woman pastor, Bruce Burgess began his ministry in 1996 and In 2009 Patricia Lawrence joined the staff team.
Gathering and Reaching
Immanuel is now made up of people from over 40 different countries. We are excited to be a part of this movement of God to gather the nations so that with His strength, we can reach the nations with the never-changing, life-giving message of Jesus Christ.