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Will the Goat Island Baptist Church be saved?

The Goat Island Baptist Church is Nova Scotia’s oldest Baptist Church building, and possibly Canada’s oldest as well.
The Goat Island Baptist Church is Nova Scotia’s oldest Baptist Church building, and possibly Canada’s oldest as well.

DIGBY, NS - Goat Island Baptist Church is for sale, and whether it stays standing or gets torn down could soon be decided.

The topic was discussed at a Clements Historical Society meeting Apr. 5, and the society had much to say regarding the church and its current situation.

The church has not had a steady congregation since the 1950’s, according to Paul Wear, the society’s president, and is used only a few times a year. It is the oldest Baptist Church building in Nova Scotia, and possibly all of Canada.

Wear said “I’ve brought this up today so we can discuss what we’d like to do with the building.”

Wear, who recently met with the Preservation Society, wants to see the church remain standing.

“My first choice would be to meet with the Baptist people and tell them to keep the church at the status quo,” he said.

Two major sill beams supporting the church must be replaced for it to safely support people.

The church’s current owners want to sell it to the Goat Island Church Preservation Society, a group comprised of only five members. The group is seeking help from the Clements group in order to fix the church. If the society does not take on the project, the church will be torn down.

A recent inspection completed by an engineer revealed two sill beams that need replacing to provide more support to the floor. The engineer recommended no large gatherings be held at the church until this fix is completed, but that this simple fix would last for 10 to 20 years.

Opinions were divided on what to do with the church. Some people present saw its conservation as saving a piece of history, while others clearly thought the building had served its purpose and could be torn down.

“I know someone who’d take it down for next to nothing,” said one man, pointing to himself.

Another person said, “This building has no plumbing, no heat, and no electricity. It’s no benefit to the community in its current state.”

Those who supported its conservation pointed out that whether it’s used regularly or not, the church is a piece of history.

“Once you have no old buildings, you have no history,” said one person.

“It’s our responsibility to preserve our history,” said another.

Wear clarified to the group that no decisions were to be made that day, but that some people should consider joining the small Preservation Society to show and offer their support. Registration is $10.

The matter will be discussed again at a future meeting.

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