In 1903, the Reverend Oscar von Barchwitz, pastor of the German Baptist Church, withdrew from the Baptist Church and formed Egg Harbor’s first English speaking church, the Emmanuel Congregational Church. Aided by Richard Carter, a Canadian, and Samuel Winterbottom, of English stock, the church received its papers of incorporation on September 12, 1903.

The church had its first meetings in a vacant factory building on Agassiz Street (the White Horse Pike) and London Avenue. Previously, pianos and needles had been manufactured in the building. The young men of the church found the basement ideal for a “turnverein,” or gymnasium. The Germans of the 19th century had emphasized the ideal of “a sound mind in a sound body” and had brought the institution of “turnvereins” to America along with their singing societies.

Soon afterward, a new meeting place had to be found, and the congregation settled on the old Odd Fellow’s Hall. The Bloch Go-Cart Company used these premises during the week and its wicker furniture was pushed to the sides to make room for the rows of chairs which became the church “sanctuary.” When the meeting was over, the lights were dimmed and the congregation sang “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” as each member placed his hand on the shoulder of the person next to him.

In 1906, a lot for a future building was secured on September 18, located at the corner of Agassiz and Liverpool. Eventually, the beautiful brick structure was built. The contractor for the job was Jacob Green, and Harry Rupp was active in the construction. Prices from those days reveal how far government spending and inflation have taken us. The interior of the building was painted for $86. Concrete floor in the heater room was laid at a cost of “no more than 5 cents a foot.” The building was dedicated on October 2, 1910.

The completion of the church building coincided with the calling of a new pastor, Clarence B. Roberts, who had preached to lumberjacks. Roberts was to remain for fify years, serving both his church and community well. The 1930’s were difficult times for the Emmanuel Congregation just as they were for everyone else. In 1937 the church was surprised with the gift of a new pipe organ. The trustees moved to put new shingles over the spot where the organ was installed. Apparently there was not enough money to fix the rest of the roof. Pastor Roberts died in 1960, his fiftieth year of service. After his death, the congregation erected an educational building next to the church, now called the Roberts Memorial.

This information comes courtesy of Dr. Warren Allem, former pastor of Emmanuel Church and the article was written by Robert A. Peterson, Headmaster of The Pilgrim Academy. 1996