PORT HAWKESBURY: Over the long weekend in May, the Port Hawkesbury Baptist Church celebrated its 50th year of ministry in the town.
The ministry began in 1969 when a number of families moved to Port Hawkesbury to work at the newly established industries. They were interested in a Baptist Church in the area. Initially, they met in homes with Rev. Chester Steeves of the Guysborough Pastoral Charge, delivering sermons and providing spiritual guidance.
Not long after, as more families moved to the area, the group felt the need to procure a building for services. The Anglican and United Churches graciously agreed to permit them to use their buildings. In 1973 land was purchased on Embrees Island with financial assistance from the Atlantic Baptist Convention. The ground breaking ceremony was celebrated by Port Hawkesbury Mayor Billy Joe MacLean, builders Lawrence Hendsbee and sons, the church congregation, and many of the townspeople. The new building, located at 50 Embree Island Road, was officially opened in the Spring of 1974.
Over the years, both the church and town have undergone many changes. As industries closed, members moved away, however, new people moving to the area have made the church home. The congregation is very diverse, with members coming from many denominations such as Catholic, Salvation Army, Methodist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Brethren, and others. The church has hosted attendants from all over Canada, the U. S., Germany, Africa, South America, England, Scotland, and other countries.
The church has always promoted active children’s ministries and youth programs since it believes that investing in children is the way of the future.
At the current time, the Port Hawkesbury Baptist Church houses clothing for the Family Needs Program in winter. Many families and individuals needing clothing have received help through this program.
On Friday evenings, a group called Celebrate Recovery meets in the church. This is a marvelous program for hurting individuals who need support and friendship. On Saturdays mornings, the local Alcoholics Anonymous group meets in their building.
The church has an energetic Sunday School group, a Wednesday Bible study group and vibrant services each Sunday morning. The morning service is assisted by a Worship Team consisting of five or six members who play drums, keyboards, guitars, and bass. They also have an organist who plays the first Sunday of each month. The church welcomes everyone in the community or traveling through to join them for the service and refreshment afterward.
The Port Hawkesbury Baptist Church kicked off the 50th Anniversary celebrations, with a fantastic Friday evening of hot dogs and s’mores by the fireside, on the shores of the Bras d’Or Lake in St. George’s Channel on May 17. On May 18, the church celebrated Camp Day with a host of children’s activities, followed by refreshments. In the evening, those in attendance enjoyed a turkey supper with all the trimmings, and lots of pies for dessert. This was held at the Evergreen Club on Embree Street. The Sunday morning service on May 19 was well attended and featured guest speaker, Rev. Greg Jones who is the Associate Executive Minister of the Canadian Association of Atlantic Baptist Churches. The service was followed by a luncheon in the church basement.
Past members and adherents traveled from New Brunswick, the Annapolis Valley, Digby, and other areas to attend the celebration.
Overall, the church felt immeasurably blessed by the weekend and the milestone of its ministry.