At the intersection of Gerrish Street with King Street in the historic town of Windsor, Nova Scotia, is a building that is full of memories for many people.
From the foot of Gerrish Street one cannot help but notice the building’s historic white belltower with four corner spires and a central spire with a cross at the top, all of which point symbolically to heaven. One quickly appreciates the architect who in 1898 drafted the detailed plans for this historic Akron style tower, sanctuary, and Sunday school hall; along with the savvy surveyor who positioned that tower with its double-door entry into the magnificent sanctuary so that the entrance stairs were accessible from King Street.
The tower and steeple were perfectly in line with a street of businesses and significant brick houses that survived the Great Windsor Fire of October 17, 1897. That blaze destroyed a major portion of the town, including the 1858 Baptist edifice at 411 King Street that citizens had admired for thirty-nine years. By the fall of 1899, and even today, people view in awe the magnificent belltower and entry to the spacious sanctuary and Sunday school hall with a wall that can be raised into the attic to increase the sanctuary capacity.
The Baptist church was one of the four churches on King Street that had to be rebuilt after the Great Windsor Fire. However, the Church of England buildings in Windsor were preserved thanks in part to the willingness of contractors constructing a Baptist parsonage across King Street; they went over to the north side to help other volunteers pump water during the fire. On the Sunday after the blaze, the Baptist congregation held their morning worship service in the Convocation Hall at the Anglican Kings College, Windsor. We may well say that ecumenicity was relevant in nineteenth century Windsor. On Sunday, November 19, 1899, a three-phase dedication service was held at the new multi-purpose Baptist church.
Looking back further, a congregation of Baptist folk officially organized as Windsor Baptist Church on December 14, 1819, when Elder David Nutter officiated at a council in Windsor to organize “a church of Jesus Christ upon the plan of Particular Baptist Churches.” They built a meeting house in 1820. They associated with other Regular Baptists through participation in the Central Association of Nova Scotia, which included Baptist churches in today’s counties of Halifax, Hants, Lunenburg, and Kings.
When the Baptist Convention was organized in 1846, Windsor Baptist Church was a charter member. They have remained associated with this same group of Baptists. During 1905 and 1906, a union with Free Baptists resulted in the formation of the United Baptist Convention of the Maritime Provinces. Then, with the inclusion of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Dominion of Canada, and the founding of Baptist churches thereafter, the Convention was renamed the United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces in 1961. Although this group of Baptists later became known as the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, and today is known by the name Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada, Windsor Baptist Church has retained its membership.
In the midst of celebrating 200 years of ministry in central Windsor, church members and friends gathered for a decommissioning service on Sunday, November 17, 2019, to thank the Lord for the privilege of ministry in his name, and to seek his blessing as they prepared to move to 219 Payzant Drive in Windsor. They met in this relatively new and well equipped former Mormon chapel to worship God on Sunday, November 24, 2019. The Lord has blessed this congregation and their current pastor, Rev. Robert (Rob) Heffernan.
by Rev. Ron Baxter