New Horizons Baptist Church holds first Easter service since $3.8 million renovation – Halifax

Following a renovation process that expanded over the course of four years, the New Horizons Baptist Church held its first Easter service on Sunday since reopening.

Formerly known as the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church because of its location on the North-End Halifax street, the building which underwent a $3.8 million expansion was full of community members attending to see performances from the church choir, sermons, and a baptism ceremony.

Sherrian Garcia, an attendee of the church since he arrived in Canada from Jamaica in 2012, said although churchgoers were provided a temporary location as renovations were underway, it felt good to be back in their original spot.

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“We’ve been out of this space for about four years and four months and when we were out of the space, I really missed the fellowship with our home church,” she said.

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She said being back on Easter Sunday made her very happy.

“Being here, especially on this day and to see faces we have not seen in such a long time, we can just rejoice.”

The origins of the church date back hundreds of years. The church was originally founded in 1832 with the current building it resides in standing for over 120 years.

Outside of the newly renovated New Horizon Baptist Church on Cornwallis Street in Halifax.

Vanessa Wright

Dr. Rhonda Britton, a pastor at the church, said she’s “overjoyed” to be back holding services at their original building and described the waiting process as “nail-biting, hair pulling, and nerve-wracking”.

“We’ve had a lot of obstacles along the way and it’s amazing when you open up one of these century-old buildings what you find,” he said.

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Britton said one of the biggest surprises during the renovation process was the discovery of a buried oil tank that contaminated the soil underneath the church, which cost the church about a quarter-million dollars to fix.

As for Easter Sunday, Britton said he was very enthusiastic about welcoming a congregation of about 150 members back under its newly-renovated roof.

“Having them come for the Easter services which also includes the baptism of eight people … as a pastor it means everything to me, not only to the joy of taking people down to the water of baptism, but to have the whole church as witness of these things,” she said.

Britton said she looks forward to many more years of serving the community through services and other programs offered through the church including community dinners, anti-violence marches, anti-racism services, and reading programs.

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Sharon Johnson, a member of the church’s choir, said it’s not only the physical renovations that feel new, but the entire atmosphere as well.

“It’s like new life was breathed into it, it’s beautiful,” she said.

The church’s expansion also includes classrooms, a technology room, kitchen, and community space.