What is now Emrich was founded as Parishfield in the late 1940s by a group of Episcopalians dedicated to empowering lay people in the church. For decades, several families lived and worked on the site, growing their own food, raising livestock, and transforming what had been a small farm into an international center for spiritual formation and lay leadership development. Visitors from around the country and across the world studied and lived together on the site. In the late 1960s, the Parishfield community moved to Detroit to continue their ministry there, and the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan began operating the facility as a retreat center. Renamed after Richard Stanley Merrill Emrich, Seventh Bishop of Michigan, the center has provided hospitality to thousands of guests since then.