When Kitchener was Berlin
1833 - Bookbinder Christian Enslin regularly met with a group of people in his apple orchard - Now King and Benton Streets - to study the Writings of Emanual Swedenborg and his explanation of the Bible's internal meaning. The group grew and together with three other congregations, a small wood-framed building was built in 1842 on Frederick Street to serve as a place of worship for the four denominations and act as the area's first public school.
Growth and Division
In 1847, the Swedeborgian congregation needed more space and purchased land on the corner of Church and Benton streets from Joseph E. Schneider. A 150 seat church was built that same year. Several decades later, a larger church was needed again, so a stone building was constructed in 1870 on the corner of King and Water streets. This became the first Church of the New Jerusalem. In 1891, some members of the church wanted to further invest in the congregation and build a school founded on the church's teachings. On September 18th 1891, the group formally split from the congregation, formed the Carmel Church Society, and met in a rented house of Rev. Frederick Waelchli until a new church was erected in 1892 at 820 King Street West. A house at the corner of Shanley and Andrew streets in Berlin was used as a school until the new building and classrooms were ready.
Growing A Community
The vision for the current church community came about when young families could not afford to buy houses close to the King Street location. In 1960, the congregation purchased the present-day property from society member John Evens with the plan to build a church community where families would be close to the church and school.
When the foundation was being laid, the unhewn cornerstone from the old King Street Church was brought and set in the southeast corner of the chapel. The cornerstone symbolizes the Lord in His Word. As referenced in Daniel 2:34, it is a stone cut without hands. A ceremony was held with just the foundation in to dedicate the building to the Lord.
The Building Itself
The church worked with John Lingwood, one of Waterloo Region's most influential architects, to design the current Carmel New Church building. Lingwood's modernist style and use of natural elements coincided with the symbolic geometrics and material symbolisms of the Writings. In the design brief, Rev. Geoffrey Childs expressed the importance of using the Writings and the correspondences to guide the design and materials of the new church building. This included incorporating the Doctrine of 3 degrees. Just as there are 3 degrees of the Lord and 3 degrees in man, both the chancel and the roof have 3 levels.
The chancel of wood and nave of stone presents a key idea: a path to celestial love. With wood representing celestial love and stone representing divine truths, the roofline mirrors man's gradual ascent by living those divine truths.
Other details include:
- The Word is the highest point on the chancel with the highest point of the church over it.
- White terrazo on chancel floor based on "sea of glass" as read in Revelation.
- 7 candlesticks based on 7 lampstands from Rev. 1:12-20.
- Circular chancel influenced by the circle of life and that all life is from the Lord and should return to Him.
Rebuilding and Expanding the School
The trend of outgrowing our buildings continued and as the church congregation grew, so did the student population. Two portables and a hallway cloakroom were added in 1987 to accommodate all the children. These were all torn down in 2001 to make way for the current school building which was built in 2002. The secondary school, in the same building, was opened in 2007.
New Church Education
A child's education has a strong foundation when parents and teachers work together.
Education at Carmel New Church School:
- is built on the Lord's Word
- teaches love and respect for the Lord, for our neighbour, and for ourself
- involves the child as a whole person
- is inquiry and project-driven, when possible
- encourages children's individuality and talents through flexible teaching environments including ample outdoor space
- includes worship in the classroom during the week and chapel services on Mondays and Fridays
New Church schools provide a spiritual overlay to all the learning that takes place, and each subject is infused with principles drawn from Divine revelation. Teachers and staff, working together with parents, explore the ways God would have students conduct themselves.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a scientist and theologian, in his writings described a new spiritual awakening of the Lord's Church here on earth that would be founded on a fuller and deeper theology understanding of the Bible. Swedenborg's writings for a New Christian Church spanned 36 volumes of theological works, but he himself never tried to establish a church organization. At the time of his death, few efforts had been made to establish an organized church, but on May 7, 1787, 15 years after his death, the New Church movement was founded in England. It spread to Europe and America, coming to Kitchener and founded here in 1892.
- Rev Frederick Waelchli has some famous relatives: Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal are his great-great grandchildren
- Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman was a missionary for the Swedenborgian Church
- Swedenborg's Writings influenced alot of people including:
- Sir Arthur Coman Doyle
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Robert Frost
- Helen Keller
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
A Vision for Our Community
It's easier to achieve a common goal when like-minded people support each other. We strive to be a caring, growing community who supports:
- Marriages and Family Values
- New Church Education
- Continued Spiritual Learning and Growth
- Supporting Each Other in a Life of Religion
Be The Church
It's easy to think of church as an organization, a building, or a group of people... but you are the smallest unit of the church. You are the church to the degree that the Lord is able to be present with you. Don't just attend church, be the church.