“In 1848, on the 8th of May, the Baptist Church in Bridgewater was reorganized with fourteen members (only two of whom survive the writing of this book in 1870), and in the same year it was received into Association held at Liverpool, N.S. Services in Bridgewater were conducted for several years in the ‘Old School House’, a building used for school purposes long after the writer took charge of this field. It stood on lands now in possession of R. Dawson and Sons, and nearly opposite their store on the hillside. The house of worship now occupied by the Church was originally designed as a ‘Union Church’, to be used by the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Lutherans, but was never by them completed. It stood so long in an unfinished condition that the cattle often took shelter in the basement, and it was designated by some as the ‘Lord’s Barn.’ It was at length sold, and much to the surprise of the original claimants was purchased by the Baptists, then indeed a feeble band; but with energy and pluck they finished and opened the building for worship in 1854.” -From Early History of the Baptists in Lunenberg County, by Rev. S. March.
The Pleasantville Baptist Church was a branch of the Bridgewater Church, and was for many years supplied by its pastors with the preached Word. The Church was organized in 1875. Rev. Frederick Crawley was ordained as its first pastor. A few of its members were originally from North-West Lunenberg Church. –Excerpt from page 202, History of the County of Lunenberg, by M.B. DesBrisay, 1870.
January 16th,1869 was an important date in the history of the Baptists of Pleasantville. It was on that day that a meeting was held in the old schoolhouse, chaired by Rev Stephen March of the Bridgewater Baptist Church, and it was unanimously resolved that a house of worship in this area was absolutely indispensable and a decision was made to erect a place of worship. A building committee and board of trustees were elected to oversee the project, which took nearly four years to complete. During this time, worship services were held at the schoolhouse or at the home of Brother Joel Corkum.
On November 25th, 1872 the building committee presented their report as follows: “Brethren, our committee beg leave to report that they have attended to the duty assigned them to the best of their ability, that the meeting house is now ready for opening and we wish to hand it over to the trustees of the house for the church to sell the pews and pay the building committee.” The church was erected on land donated by brothers John Haughn and Joel Corkum. On November 27, 1872, the pews were sold at auction to cover the cost of the building which was $1,187.00. Each buyer was required to make a ten percent down payment at that time with the balance to be paid in January 1873. The cost of the pews were from $20 to $59. The entire sum was realized at this later date. Resolved, that all pew holders shall be permitted to have a voice in repairing and painting of the house in the future.
The church was dedicated on December 15, 1872 with services at 10:30 in the morning, conducted by Rev Stephen March of Bridgewater. His sermon was based on Isaiah 56:7 and at 2:30 in the afternoon by Rev William Hall based on 1 Chronicles 29:5. The pastors were paid $4.00 per sermon. A deeply interesting prayer meeting was held in the evening at 7 o’clock and the hearts of the Lord’s people were greatly encouraged.
The first mention of a “Sabbath School” was on October 21, 1887 with Benjamin Sarty as Superintendent and Nathan Lantz as assistant.
Services were held with almost uninterrupted regularity every other Sabbath, or twice a month from this period until the close of the pastorate of Rev Stephen March in October 1874. The congregations are greatly enlarged and during the latter year as a revival of religion was experienced in which many persons were brought to a saving knowledge of Christ and were baptized and added to the membership of the Bridgewater Church. During this period regular monthly conference meetings were held on Saturday afternoon prior to communion Sunday. These meetings served as a spiritual preparation for the communion service and consisted of prayers and personal testimonies by most of the members present. Business items were sometimes discussed at these meetings. Annual business meetings were always held on New Year’s Day, except when that day fell on Sunday.
On Their Own
In 1875, by mutual consent of the Bridgewater Church and Pleasantville section, after due deliberation by a competent council called for that purpose, the latter was organized into a separate church to be known and distinguished as “The Pleasantville Baptist Church.” A number of brethren were present, pastors and delegates of neighboring churches took part in the organization experience.
In the spring of 1876 the church negotiated with Rev. F.D. Crawley of Acadia College to spend a few months with them after the close of the college term in June, to which he responded. After laboring with much acceptance for a few months, the church unanimously resolved to call a council of ministers and brethren from sister churches for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of setting apart brother F.D. Crawly to the work of the Gospel Ministry.
The Council was appointed to meet on the 21st of September, 1876 at Pleasantville at 10 o’clock am. There were representatives from Onslow, Bridgewater, LaHave, New Cornwall, North West Lunenburg, Chester and Liverpool. The delegates however did not many of them appear until the afternoon of that day and after consultation and explanation, it was resolved to proceed with the ordination service on the following day and Rev Stephen March to preach the ordination sermon. Rev. Frederick Crawley later ministered at Fredericton, NB and in the English speaking church in Rangoon, Burma.
Gleanings from the minutes of the Pleasantville Baptists prompt several thoughts. There is, for instance, the record that in March 1916, during the pastorate of Rev J.H. Copeland, the Women’s Missionary Aid Society presented the church with an individual communion service. A picture of life in this province nearly half a century ago is suggested by the action which the Trustees of the Pleasantville Church took in July 1917. At that time it was voted to have the grass in front of the parsonage “made” and stored in the barn “as cheap as possible.” Evidently hay was a much more valuable commodity in those days than it is today. On January 1, 1902 it was resolved to take up a collection every Sunday morning and evening. In 1915, Rev J.H. Copeland was pastor of Pleasantville and New Cumberland churches at a salary of $275.00 per year.
Many improvements have taken place in our church building over the years. A platform was erected for the choir in 1928, the church was wired for electricity in 1943, a wood burning furnace was installed in 1949 to be replace by an oil furnace in 1963. A tile ceiling was installed in the old portion of the building in 1960, lowering the ceiling to its present height.
During the early 1960’s a need was seen for expansion of the facilities. This project was undertaken in 1964 and the building was raised to its present level and the basement constructed at a cost of $1,600. This provided room for Sunday School and other church groups. Wall panelling was also installed in the main auditorium. The church was re-dedicated at an impressive service on Oct 25, 1964 conducted by Rev. A.K. Herman and Rev. Ronald Noble.
Under the direction of Pastor G. Burton on June 22, 1983, an expansion research committee was formed and asked to investigate the feasibility of expanding or relocating our church building. The original structure was 1200 sq feet, but bulging at the seams with enthusiasm and the ability to grow. Donations began to emerge even before the final plans were introduced. Between October 1983 and June 1989, the church family donated $95,000. The boys and girls attending Sunday school were encouraged to bring in their pennies for this project and over $1,000 was raised during the construction period. In the spring of 1986, ground broke and the addition of the multi-purpose room began. The inside of the old church was reversed and an addition to the front, housing a new platform and several offices were completed and a service of dedication was held in June 1989. During the construction period, Rev. Burton resigned for health reasons and Rev D. Porter provided leadership for completing the project, resulting in the facility that we occupy today.
Never Once Did We Ever Walk Along
Many changes have occurred since the decision was made to establish a house of worship in this community and the way we do ministry has also changed quite dramatically. However, the Word of God remains unchanged, the foundation on which our faith is built. Lives have been changed, both young and old that have entered the doors of this facility through the work of the Holy Spirit and the steadfast preaching of the Word. Colossians 3:16 “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”