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Emmanuel Church, Spryfield is one of the oldest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, tracing its beginnings to 1853. Spryfield was, at that time, a prosperous farm community and among its inhabitants were the George Sutherland family.

On April 28, 1853, this family donated a parcel of land to Bishop Binney on which a public schoolhouse was to be built. There the children of Spryfield would receive religious and secular instruction. The building was also to be used for Divine Service and provision was made for a burial ground. The daughter of George Sutherland, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth (or “Bessie,” as she was nicknamed) became the schoolteacher. In addition to her duties as teacher, Miss Sutherland conducted religious services, a very unusual occupation for a woman of that time. For many years, she carried on this dual role, providing religious, as well as educational instruction for a great many of Spryfield’s young residents.

The old Sutherland homestead was located across the road from the present cemetery, on what is now Sussex Street. An interesting footnote to the story of Miss Sutherland is that, for some reason, despite her wealth and esteemed position, she was buried in an unmarked grave. On June 21, 1987, a cairn with plaque was erected in the cemetery in memory of Miss Sutherland, and was dedicated at a service conducted by Rev. James Purchase.

The Colonial and Continental Church Society, an English organization with a branch in Halifax, contributed to the support of the little church school for many years and, after Miss Sutherland’s death, provided various persons to conduct services. Many of these people went on to become outstanding church figures. Among these were:

  • Rev. Klement Richardson, M.A., University of Dublin, Ireland;

  • A. W. Nichols, who became Rector of North Sydney Parish;

  • Rev. W. I. Arnold;

  • Rev. A. E. Dentith, who served the parish for twenty-six years.

It was during the incumbency of Rev. Dentith that the church records, stored at St. Paul’s Church in Terrence Bay, disappeared. Taken were a number of old and new coins, newspapers, the Communion Plate and forty-five years of church records. Not only did this loss make research difficult; it also caused great hardship for the persons trying to obtain birth certificates and pensions.

In 1913, the church was enlarged, first by an addition in the rear and later a vestry. The church was then named “Emmanuel” for the Prince of Peace. In 1918, the chancel was built and at the close of World War I, a beautiful memorial window and honour roll were installed. A parish hall was constructed in 1924 but at that time the church had no rectory. Electric lights were installed in 1934, and in that year the choir was vested for the first time.

The rector at that time was Rev. O. C. Brown, and in February of that year at the annual meeting, it was realized that a new church was needed for the growing parish. To that end, in August, 1941, land for this purpose was purchased from Daniel and Maud MacNeil on the Herring Cove Road. Construction began on the new building in 1945 under the direction of Rev. B. C. Strople. The foundation stone was laid on April 7, 1946 by Archbishop G. F. Kingston.

This church differed from many built in this century in that it echoed the pioneer roots of the parish. The Rector and congregation planned the Gothic design. The members of the parish assumed the entire responsibility for the construction and therefore all the work was done in the evenings and holidays. The Diocesan Times noted this effort, commenting that the old church, looking down on the construction from its place on the hill, must feel not envy or remorse, but should rather rejoice to see " …the children she had nourished had grown and made good in the world and because of the seeds of the faith sown in their hearts, the new church was made possible."

The Ladies' Guild and the Junior W. A., led by Mrs. Edward Gardiner and Mrs. G. Dockrill, raised a great deal of money for the building. Among those involved in the construction were:

  • Edward Gardiner, Warden;

  • H. Miller;

  • G. Schnare;

  • B. Nicholson;

  • F. Fiander;

  • E. King;

  • A. Purcell (Sr. and Jr.);

  • H. and R. Purcell;

  • J. Gerry;

  • C. Hayden;

  • C. Shaw;

  • F. Allen;

  • C. Burrill;

  • J. Pratt;

  • the Robinson family

  • and many more.

Even with so many willing workers, the operation did not always go smoothly. Delays were numerous; many caused by postwar shortages of materials. The Rector’s efforts were unstinting and usually fruitful. For example, when chimney bricks were needed and none could be obtained, the Rector went to see the manager of a brick making plant, and not only were the bricks delivered as promised, but the only charge was for the trucking!

The congregation also provided the new furnishings, as the only pieces from the old church that were still useable were the lectern and the font.

On September 20, 1951, the present Emmanuel Church was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. R. H. Waterman, Bishop of Nova Scotia. Since this could only take place when the church had all the necessary appointments for the ministration of Divine Service, it was a service of deep meaning to the parishioners.

Thus, it was that the foundation was laid in 1946; the building was dedicated in 1947 and consecrated in 1951. In only five years, this was a truly outstanding achievement on the part of those involved.

The consecration of the new church was not the end of the story. The years since 1951 have witnessed much change and growth in the Parish. At that time, the parish included Emmanuel, Spryfield; St. James, Harrietsfield; St. Paul’s, Terrence Bay and St. Andrew’s, Timberlea. By 1944, because of the growth of Spryfield, St. Andrew’s and St. Paul’s were relinquished. In 1952 St. Augustine’s, Jollimore, joined the Parish and for the first time became self-supporting, ending the grants from the Diocesan Mission Board.

The Parish still required a hall and rectory. The former was erected by contractor Garfield Drake, completed in 1958 and dedicated by Bishop Waterman in 1960. Rev. B. C. Strople was the rector and F. Fiander and F. Relf were the churchwardens. As the church was free of debt, Mrs. H. Purcell, the oldest member of the parish, burned the mortgage for the hall in 1970, at a ceremony conducted by Rev. Emery Harris in one of his last acts as rector of the Parish.

The Rectory is another story! From 1912 until 2003, Emmanuel has had five rectories at various locations around the Spryfield area. Dentith Road, 249 Herring Cove Road (Alvina Nursery), 112 Old Sambro Road, 320 Herring Cove Road, and finally the present location, 22 Arvida Avenue.



Our celebration of 150 years as a parish would not have been possible without the guidance of the many wonderful "shepherds" we have had through the years.

  • Miss Elizabeth Sutherland

  • Rev. Klement Richardson

  • Rev. A. W. Nichols

  • Rev. W. I. Arnold

  • Rev. F. A. Dentith

  • Rev. G. H. B. Rutter

  • Rev. G. C. Brown

  • Rev. W. W. LaVatte

  • Rev. Bev Strople

  • Rev. Emery Harris

  • Rev. Donald Neish

  • Rev. Jack Tattrie

  • Rev. James Purchase

  • Rev. Valeria Rhymes

  • Rev. Karen Hunt

  • Rev. Dianna Brett-Frye

Emmanuel Anglican Church welcomes new Rector


 Emmanuel Anglican Church in Spryfield welcomed their new rector, Rev. Michelle Bull, with a Celebration of New Ministry on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis. Rev. Michelle was officially installed by Archdeacon Paul Smith, and welcomed by the wardens with a huge, ceremonial key. 

 Rev. Michelle was adamant that this service was not all about her. “Emmanuel Church has been serving God in this community since 1853. They have a long history of ministry. I’ve also been involved in ministry, in many different ways, all my life. What is new here is that we are now working together.” Rev. Michelle emphasized, “This is a new ministry because we are bringing together my talents and resources and the talents and resources of this church, and pooling them to carry out God’s mission in Spryfield.” 

 As a symbolic representation of this, Rev. Michelle asked all the groups and individuals in the parish to think of something that symbolized their ministry and to bring it forward during the service. Warden and Property Chair Allen Johnson brought several things, including a plunger with red and green duct tape and a massive box of headache pills for the Safer Church committee. The ACW brought a tea cup filled with knitted finger puppets, an ongoing ministry for the IWK. The Mother’s Union brought a prayer shawl and the Emmanuel Ladies’ Fellowship brought an elf hat and a baptismal banner. A basket of food symbolized the ministry of the Emmanuel Food Bank. Cemetery Chair Vic Eisan brought a large pot with earth and a cross from the cemetery, to represent our ancestors in the faith. 

 Rev. Michelle brought several symbols: a chalice and paten for her sacramental ministry, a Bible and a huge reference book for her preaching ministry, an oil stock for her pastoral ministry, prayer cards to show she has people’s backs in prayer and a compass for her leadership. She also put on a silly, glow in the dark hat, saying, “I also think we need to have fun together and celebrate. I’m always up for a party.” Perhaps the most popular symbol was brought by Rev. Charles Bull, husband of the new rector, who brought a teddy bear to symbolize his loving support. He said she’d been supporting his ministry for many years and now it was his turn.

 The service included the readings for St. Francis and a sermon by the Rev. Canon Dr. Jody Clarke, who began by referring to his sermon as a roast. Besides telling anecdotes about Rev. Michelle and her lack of knowledge of sports, he spoke of how St. Francis left his life of ease and self-indulgence after a conversion experience. He overcame his prejudice for many people, including lepers, and began to welcome and include everyone, a model for how the church can be a welcoming and healing place for all. St. Francis transformed his community and the church, by doing this.

 No Anglican gathering is complete without a reception and the evening ended with parishioners and guests continuing the celebration by sharing in the many symbols of the baking talents of the parish.

Emmanuel Anglican Has a New Minister


 Emmanuel Anglican Church is celebrating because they now have a new minister. Rev. Michelle Bull was appointed as the permanent minister of Emmanuel in mid-August and the church had an official welcome, a Celebration of New Ministry service, on October 4. The church welcomed Anglicans from all over HRM and other Christians from Spryfield, including Rev. Anne Hoganson of St. Paul’s United and Rev. Pauline Coffin from Spryfield Christian Community Church, to share in the celebration. 

 The October 4 service included an official installation of Rev. Michelle as the Rector of the Church. But the new rector explained that this service is not all about her. “I had a ministry before I came here,” she said, “and so did Emmanuel Church, which was founded in 1853. What is new is that we are now going to be working together, pooling our resources and talents to carry out what God is calling us to do in Spryfield.” To represent this, everyone in the church was invited to bring up symbols of their different ministries and Rev. Michelle did the same.

 As the new minister, she brought the Bible to symbolize her preaching and teaching work, communion vessels to symbolize celebrating communion, a compass for leadership and a silly hat to show her intention to have fun with the community. Allen Johnson, chair of the Property Committee, brought a plunger with red and green duct tape. The Women’s groups brought a tea cup and knitted finger puppets for the IWK, banners that they make for newly baptised children, and a knitted prayer shawl. A basket of food symbolized the work of the Emmanuel Food Bank and a highly flowered hat represented the Spring Tea. Rev. Michelle’s husband, Rev. Charles Bull, brought a teddy bear to indicate his support.

The evening was capped off with a reception showcasing the baking talents of many people. 

 Rev. Michelle was ordained last year and served last fall and winter at St. Peter’s, Eastern Passage as an assistant pastor. Prior to that she worked as a volunteer in her church and community, mostly doing youth work and work with other churches. She is really looking forward to getting to know Emmanuel Church and the Community of Spryfield. 

 Everyone is welcome to Sunday services. There is a traditional communion service at 8:00 a.m. and a contemporary communion service with music and Sunday School at 10:00 a.m., followed by a fellowship time. The church is located at 322 Herring Cove Rd.

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