Westport Celebrates 200 Years

Westport 200 Years

Westport Baptist Church

“We are going to treat you to an old-fashioned ‘entertainment’ today, like those performed by the ladies of yesteryear in their successful fund- raising efforts for the church.”

Thus were the guests welcomed to the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Westport Baptist Church on Brier Island, Digby County. With all the hosting group attired in the costumes of years ago, the weekend got off to a light-hearted start on Saturday, October 3rd.

As Carol Welch, of the anniversary committee, hosted the entertainment, she introduced an interesting variety of illustrious visitors – including Joshua Slocum, Noah, Moses, local residents from the early days, and others.

At the close of this show, the guests were free to seek out the singsong in the Vestry, view the artifacts in the church or just enjoy the scenery – we have a lot of that ! They returned to the Hall to enjoy a typical island pot luck supper, which left everyone very satisfied.

The evening service, in the historic “church on the hill”, a registered Heritage property, was the scene of much reminiscing. Visiting former pastors told tales of their time here, the “Brier Island Lights”, our trio, entertained with music, as did instrumental and singing solos. The choir, as usual, was in good form under director Eleanor Bailey. Those pastors speaking were John Carroll, Ron MacLean, Phillip Welch and our present pastor David Ingersoll, who had spent some time in the pulpit previously.

Most of the costumes in evidence for the weekend were made by Wanda Christensen, president of the Historical Society, and direct descendant of one of the early church members.

Looking Back

The church was established in 1809 after being associated for ten years with the Sissiboo Church (Weymouth). This necessitated the trip by boat across Saint Mary’s Bay in all kinds of weather. The members carried out this trip faithfully, as noted in local newspapers of the day. Westport Baptist has never been closed since that time, and has experienced three meeting houses, the present one built in 1850, a new Vestry, and two parsonages, and has welcomed many pastors. An updated history of the church was on display.

The church is, since 1991, a registered provincial heritage property, and may be viewed on the websites Historic Places of Nova Scotia and Historic Places of Canada. Its qualifying points included its role as a landmark for seamen for many years, and its position as the family church of Joshua Slocum.

The Anniversary Service on Sunday, led by Pastor David Ingersoll in period costume, featured Rev. Dr. Peter Reid, our Executive Minister, as guest speaker. It was good to welcome the visiting pastors and their wives, and Wayne Fevens, area minister, to the service. Pastor David was quick to point out that Rev. Reid was a student minister with him in earlier years in Westchester NS.

Rev. Reid, after a brief look at some interesting points in our history, brought a message based on the life of King Jehosophat, and his experience in re-discovering the Holy Scriptures. We need to look to, and plan for, the future in these hard times, and we must rely totally on God for our guidance, as the king did in a time of crisis. He humbled himself, and his people as well, and sought the face of God, and so brought his people back to faith. This story can be found in 2 Chronicles 1.

Can we deal with our time of crisis as he did ? We must remember that “the battle is the Lord’s”, and rely on Him to point us to our future. God was certainly with us in the past, He is sustaining us in the present, and He has plans for our future. Let us discover that plan.

Music was again an enjoyable part of the service, with soloist Barbara McDormand, the choir, and the trio. Along with our guest pastors, a number of former members had come home for the weekend, and greetings were read from many more who had received invitations.

It was a memorable weekend, a time of wonderful fellowship and memories, a time of laughter and tears, and a time of a host of “photo opportunities”.

I am sure that God was smiling benevolently, and perhaps hopefully, on this gathering of His children, on whom He has showered many blessings over the years.

– Submitted by Carol Welch

Comments are closed.