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Milestone in faith: First Cornwallis Baptist Church congregation celebrates 210th anniversary

Gladys Martin of Centreville and Lochlan “Bud” Rafuse of Sheffield Mills stand in the sanctuary of the First Cornwallis Baptist Church in Upper Canard. The congregation celebrates its 210th anniversary this year.
Gladys Martin of Centreville and Lochlan “Bud” Rafuse of Sheffield Mills stand in the sanctuary of the First Cornwallis Baptist Church in Upper Canard. The congregation celebrates its 210th anniversary this year.

UPPER CANARD, NS - As the congregation prepares to celebrate its 210th anniversary, two long-time members are reflecting on the important role the First Cornwallis Baptist Church community has played in their lives.

Gladys Martin of Centreville, who was a choir member for 25 years, said it’s wonderful to see the congregation celebrating the milestone. She started attending the church in 1936 after her family moved from Halifax. She was only six years old at the time.

Her family used to attend an Anglican church in Halifax and wondered after they moved to the area which congregation to join. Martin recalls her mother saying that they would attend the church of the first minister who came to see them. The first minister to visit was Rev. R.W. Lindsay of First Cornwallis Baptist.

Martin said being a member of the church has made a positive impact on her life. The congregation is getting smaller but it’s made up of great people that she considers an extended family.

“We’re all very friendly,” she said. “When we come in Sunday mornings, there are always ‘good mornings’ and hugs and kisses and greetings of every kind.”

Martin, who volunteered on several church committees over the years, is pleased to see so many celebrations of the church’s anniversary planned between Sept. 10 and 16.

Lochlan “Bud” Rafuse of Sheffield Mills, a deacon, said he started attending the church in 1962 when he was 31 years old. Rafuse became a full member in 1964. Rafuse also served on many church committees over the years. He used to live close by, next to the former Canard poultry plant, where he worked.

“I had many a chance to work with the federal government, to go somewhere else and make more money, and decided to stay,” Rafuse said. “It was just my connection with the church and the community that kept me here.”

He worked with a boys’ youth group through the church for 12 years. There were as many as 20 boys involved at a time. Rafuse enjoyed getting to watch them grow up. He was always touched when one of them thanked him later in life for trying to help change their ways when they were younger.

“That made it all worthwhile,” Rafuse said. “It was worth every bit of it if I had my life to live over again.”

His job at the plant kept him busy but he recalls going without his supper so he could make it to the church in time to meet with the youth group. They would play softball if the weather was fine, with Rafuse acting as shortstop for both teams.

He would sometimes be accused of not playing as hard for one side as the other but he took it in stride, as he considered the boys a part of his family.

Church treasurer and anniversary committee member Betty MacCumber of Kentville was raised in Upper Canard and started attending the church as a child.

She said it’s wonderful that the congregation is welcoming the wider community to take part in the upcoming anniversary celebrations. With several local congregations failing, it’s great to see an older church still hanging on.

“We put a lot of effort into it and we all work together,” she said.

MacCumber said the church’s youth group would be in the Sheffield Mills Harvest Fair parade on Sept. 9, passing out flyers promoting the celebrations.

Lochlan “Bud” Rafuse of Sheffield Mills and Gladys Martin of Centreville stand on the front steps of the First Cornwallis Baptist Church in Upper Canard. The long-time members say it’s wonderful to see the congregation celebrating its 210th anniversary in 2017.

 

About the church

There have been many changes and reconfigurations to the current church building over the years, the third church to stand on the site. The second church was lost to fire in 1909 and the current church was completed in 1910 at a cost of $10,000.

The pipe organ was purchased in 1909, when the current church was being built, at a price of $100 from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Halifax.

In 1945, a fire broke out in the current church. A bucket brigade took action and almost had the fire extinguished when the fire department arrived. The scorched wood was cut out and replaced but evidence of the fire can still be seen. In 1987, lightning struck the steeple but luckily didn’t ignite the wooden structure.

The stained glass window in the sanctuary, which incorporates iconic Kings County imagery such as Cape Blomidon, was installed in recognition of the congregation’s 200th anniversary.

There have been several missionaries from the church who worked overseas, spreading the love of the congregation to less fortunate areas around the globe.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

Did you know?

The First Cornwallis Baptist Church 210th anniversary celebrations will include…

-       Sept. 10: Sunday morning worship service with guest speaker Rev. Dr. Peter Lohnes at 10:30 a.m. with a light lunch including anniversary cake following the service.

-       Sept. 10: Afternoon musical celebration at 3 p.m. A free will offering will help support the Canning and Area Food Bank. The First Cornwallis Baptist Church choir and choirs from daughter churches, including the Berwick Baptist, Billtown Baptist, Pereau United Baptist, Port Williams United Baptist, Canning United Baptist, Gibson Woods United Baptist and Centreville Baptist churches will provide the music.

-       Sept. 13: A musical evening with Sonlight at 7 p.m. with a free will offering supporting The Portal Youth Centre in Kentville.

-       Sept. 16: Family Fun Day from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free and activities include a 4-H petting zoo, bounce castle, face painting, crafts and a fish pond. There will be free barbecued hotdogs and pop. Wayne Parker will provide musical entertainment from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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