You’re probably aware that Emmaus Homes is celebrating our 125th Anniversary, beginning this month. You probably also know that Emmaus is a faith-based organization. But do you know how these things are connected?
On July 2, 1893, the first building of the Emmaus Home at Marthasville was ready for occupancy and later that year, we welcomed our first clients. Our roots connect to what is now Eden Theological Seminary. In 1850, the Kirchenverein des Westens (Synod of the West) of the German Evangelical church opened a seminary to train men as pastors for the many congregations organizing across the American frontier. The seminary opened on land outside of Marthasville, MO. However, the seminary moved to the St. Louis area in 1883, leaving the campus buildings unoccupied and unused. Two local Evangelical pastors had been thinking about opening a facility to serve people with epilepsy, who could not be cared for in their homes. These leaders connected another pastor, who had experience in the care of people with epilepsy and who knew of similar work being done in Germany. These men formed a Board of Directors with other men from the Evangelical Church, and it was decided to take over what had been the seminary’s buildings and land. Thus, the Emmaus Home to serve people with epilepsy and intellectual disabilities was born.
Many people with disabilities came to Emmaus to live, and within 5 years, it became clear that another facility was needed. A farm just outside St. Charles, MO was purchased, a building to house 16-18 residents was constructed, and in the fall of 1901, the Emmaus Home at St. Charles opened and received its first resident. Since more women than men were applying to live at Emmaus, the St. Charles campus began by serving women.
The church supported Emmaus in many ways. Some members served on the Board of Directors, making the very first decisions about acquiring land, constructing buildings, hiring administrators, and serving people. Some churches gave land and money so that the campuses could expand. And many more contributed food and material goods for campus operations.
While much has changed over 125 years, much more has remained the same – including the deep love that members of the United Church of Christ hold for the clients we serve. We give thanks to the United Church of Christ for their continued support of our mission and ministry. Thanks be to God!