The first official record of a Baptist church in Canada was that of the Horton Baptist Church (now Wolfville), established on October 29, 1778. The church was established with the assistance of the New Light evangelist Henry Alline. The Baptist movement remained strong in the area. In 1838, Acadia University was founded as a Baptist college.
A Brief History of Wolfville Baptist Church
Shirley Soleil-Day, Church Historian
In 1763, the Rev. Ebenezer Moulton gathered the Congregationalists and Baptists together in one church body. When there was a disagreement between him and the Congregationalists he left the area. The church had been organized and covenanted in 1765 by Ebenezer Moulton and was re-covenanted on Oct. 29, 1778, years later.
Nicholas Pierson (pastor), Benjamin Sanford, John Clark, Peter Bishop, Silas Beals, Benjamin Kinsman, Jr., Daniel Huntley, John Coldwell, Esther Pierson and Hannah Kinsman were the original members of the Horton congregation. Nicholas Pierson (1778–1791) was the pastor at this time. After Pierson was ordained, the Church set aside Benjamin Kinsman for the honourable office of Deacon “by the laying on of hands.” “The first baptism recorded was that of Peter Wickwire … on the 15th of November, 1778.”
The church has been known by different names at different times in its history; The Baptist Church of Christ in Horton, The Baptist Church of Horton, and The First Baptist Church at Horton. (Stephen DeBlois stated the real name was The First Horton Baptist Church), The Wolfville Baptist Church, and The Wolfville United Baptist Church. In 2011 the church was once again named Wolfville Baptist Church.
Apparently, the first meeting house exclusively owned by the Baptists was built c.1820 on the southwest corner of the Old Cemetery. The church replacing it, a large white frame church, was built on the south side of Main St, just east of Highland in 1859. Tom Shepherd, in his book, Historic Wolfville: Grand Pre and Countryside, recorded that the cornerstone for the present church was laid on August 31, 1911 by Miss Margaret Barss. The phrases ‘This house erected 1911’ and ‘Baptist Church organized 1778’ are wearing away by wind blowing branches of a bush across the face of the cornerstone.
After much debate that lasted several years it was determined that our church building is structurally sound and only needed major repairs to maintain it for many years to come. The cost was high but far less than tearing it down and rebuilding or building a church elsewhere in the community.
However, this physical structure is not the church but serves the ‘true’ church, the congregation, as well as the community. There have been exciting events and projects carried out over the years. A recent one, the new roof, is still generating excitement. Throughout the years of 2018 and 2019, and now 2020, the community suppers have drawn crowds who pay to eat but also to assist in paying for the new roof. This directory is another example of how we are promoting awareness of who we are as well as providing funds for the new roof.
We missed our former pastor, Barry Morrison, and struggled through a period of adjustment when Frank Guinta became interim pastor. Then more adjustment when a second minister, Jen Smith was called. Her two years with us have truly opened doors to people; not only within the church’s walls but in the community, thus, re-establishing a practice begun hundreds of years ago. We also are blessed by Jennifer Longley who is minister of pastoral care. Our pastor, Scott Kindred-Barnes, who is dynamic and personable and full of energy, has now been with us well over a year. However, once again, we are adjusting to another transition as a search committee is formed to call a gifted person to take up where Jen left off; hopefully, to begin this ministry by September, 2020.
Our church’s motto, In the Heart of the Community and the Community at Heart, cannot be demonstrated in a more meaningful way than reaching out to people in our area; helping them in various ways, accepting them without judgement, and welcoming them into our church family. We are in the unique position to connect with many interesting people from around the world because Acadia University is right across the road. Also, we join with other community groups to sponsor refugees hoping to break free of war in their country. We can feel good about the commitment we have made to them but look forward to other endeavours to serve God in this beautiful historical site in Canada.
Click to view the compliation of three years of church history presentations researched and written by the church historian Shirley Soleil-Day, and slides prepared by George Ward.