Nictaux Baptist Church, History

The Nictaux Baptist Church has a long and storied history. Although this is a short version, it remains a bit of a long read. I encourage you to take a few moments to take it in. This is just a tiny glance at what God has done here in this community.
Rev. (Pastor) Jeff Milne

The history of the Nictaux United Baptist Church dates back to the latter half of the Eighteenth Century when the pastor of the "Church of Cornwallis and Horton" ministered to numerous communities including Nictaux (from 1760-1775). It is also connected to the first noted spiritual awakening in the province that came through the preaching of Henry Alline sometime between 1777-1783. (Alline was an itinerant preacher of major influence in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and New England. In his time Alline was considered “The Apostle of Nova Scotia”).

Major Nathaniel Parker, who served in the British army under General Wolfe and took part in the capture of Quebec in 1759, came to Nova Scotia in 1765 and settled in Nictaux. In 1799 he and his wife, Salome, travelled on horseback to Horton (Wolfville area) and were baptized by immersion. Thereafter, their home in Nictaux became a center for Baptists of the area. Major Parker is even known to have preached on several occasions. His grave maker can still be found near where a number of former church buildings once stood, on the northeast corner at the intersection of Hwy 201 & Hwy 10.

The first Baptist minister to settle in Nictaux was Rev. T.H. Chipman. He was baptized at Horton on November 5, 1779, and ordained in Annapolis County in 1782. The Church at Nictaux was organized on June 6, 1810 with Mr. Chipman as Pastor; Joseph Morton, David Randall and Isaac Whitman were appointed deacons. At that time total membership was 26. On June 24, 1811, the "Baptist Church of Nictaux and Wilmot", now with 58 members, requested admission into the N.S. Baptist Association, which was cheerfully granted.

In 1813, a building committee was organized consisting of Obadiah Morse, Timothy Parker, Nathaniel Parker, Jr. Ezekiel Cleveland, and Samuel Dodge. These men designed and organized the construction of a Baptist chapel near the intersection of Hwy 201 and Hwy 10. Rev. Chipman continued to serve the Lord at Nictaux until 1828 when failing health forced him to resign.

In December 1829 a young pastor, Rev. I.E. Bill, was called to Nictaux with his wife, Isabella, and their young son. During his time serving the Lord in Nictaux, Rev. Bill saw many respond to the Lord's call, professing Christ as Lord and Savior and entering the waters of Baptism. In 1829 the first Temperance Society in Nova Scotia was formed here in Nictaux. The Temperance Society was a movement that encouraged voluntary, complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages. This was done out of social concern for the perils of alcoholism, its connections to domestic violence, and poverty. In May of 1832, 24 gentlemen, including Pastor Bill, signed a document which set forth the Creed, Articles of Belief, Covenant and Declaration of Land ownership of the "Regular Calvinistic Close Communion Baptist Church of Christ in Nictaux and Wilmot" which was recorded with the Provincial Registrar of Deeds, at Bridgetown on April 14, 1833.

Another notable event during Rev. I.E. Bill’s time in Nictaux came in 1838. In September of that year, Dr Edmond Albern Crawley was unsuccessful in an attempt to attain a facility position at Dalhousie because he was a Baptist. In October, Crawley and John Pryor of Horton came to see Rev. I.E Bill to discuss an idea that had been brought forth in 1828 by the Baptist Educational Society. This idea was to establish a college at Wolfville. After much prayer and discussion, the decision to “go forward” with this plan was made. In 1841 “Acadia” was finally given royal approval in the Nova Scotia Legislature. Crawley, Prior, and Bill are noted among Acadia University’s founding members, and we are proud to know and share that the final discernment and decision to take on that great work was made here in Nictaux!

Nictaux is also notable as a "Mother Church" as it was comprised of members from a large area extending from what is now the eastern boundary of Paradise to the western boundary of Berwick and from the Bay of Fundy shore to the southern boundary of New Albany. In 1833 there were 1000 church members at Nictaux! From this, a division was made and two new churches were organized at New Albany and Aylesford. Lawrencetown Valley West and Inglisville later asked for permission to establish their respective churches on April 8, 1873. In 1861 it was noted at Association to grant dismission to all members on the north side of Annapolis River. With that, a new church known as Pine Grove was organized, now the United Baptist Church at Middleton. In addition, in 1861 a new house of worship was built at Torbrook and in 1912 yet another at Bloomington. All these churches can trace their roots to the fellowship that once gathered here at Nictaux!

In 1840 a new meeting house was built on that same location, what is today the northeast corner of Hwy 10 and Hwy 201, to accommodate the remarkable growth of the church. This new meeting house could seat 600 people. At that time the old chapel was moved to a new location and was then used as a school. In 1845 was the beginning of another important work when a boarding school for young ladies was opened under the direction of Rev. Bill's daughter. This was the first of its kind in Nova Scotia!

On January 19, 1899 the large meeting house mentioned above was destroyed by fire. Remarkably, by November 1899 the congregation had erected a new building. This building also stood at that same location what is now the northeast corner at the intersection of HWY’s 10 and 201, and in 1955 it was renovated to provide more Sunday School classrooms. In 1976 construction was started on the southeast corner of the intersection of Hwy 10 and Hwy 201 to construct a Christian Family Centre which was officially opened on November 19, 1978. At that time it opened free of debt!

As is so wisely stated in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything, even noting there is “a time to tear down and a time to build up” (Eccles 3:3b). The congregation of the Nictaux Baptist Church has a history of bold and faithful moves in response to recognized needs. In March 2013, Rev. William (Bill) McLeod (who served here with his wife, Marian, from 1990 - 2019) led the church through a remarkable phase of our history. Due to poor/dangerous conditions and projected repair costs, the circa 1899 church building on that northeast corner was officially closed and subsequently torn down. Today the bell from that former structure marks the place where the building once stood. The Church in Nictaux now gathers for worship in a purposefully renovated Christian Family Centre on the southeast side of the intersection. To this day it is called the Christian Family Centre (CFC) because we, the people professing Christ as Lord, comprise the Church! This worship space is flexible, simple to maintain and comparatively inexpensive to operate, thus freeing the church to better serve and be the church!

The more recent years, since 2020, have also been noteworthy. These days we find ourselves in a predominantly post-Christian world and modern pandemic times. Today the church is pastored by Rev. Jeff Milne. Pastor Jeff and his wife, Charlene, were called to Nictaux and began their service here in Sept. 2019, just a few months before the first wave of the coronavirus, Covid-19. The pandemic has introduced many changes and challenges, but also many blessings. We, at times, were required to cease in-person gatherings for worship to limit interactions and virus spread. In other instances, we decided to cease in-person gatherings for the safety of those around us. We now have an FM transmitter allowing short-range broadcasts to the parking lot. We come together virtually for prayer meetings. We regularly mail out correspondences and weekly prayer letters. Our worship services are video recorded and posted to this webpage, and we have a catalogue of videos available on our YouTube channel. We also Livestream our worship services on our Facebook page to allow friends and church members to engage and partake in several ways.

Despite the challenges facing us, the Church is moving forward. We are seeking God’s leading in all things. To see evidence of this, I invite you to take a moment to glance at our current “Missions and Ministries” tab here on the website. God has led us to these ministry activities and He is richly blessing us and those we serve through them. Thank you for reading our history. We pray this has been an encouragement to you. We see God's fingerprints all over it and we trust He is continuing His work in our community and this church. With confidence in that, we look forward to someday adding many more paragraphs to this history page! To God be the Glory!

Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Nictaux Baptist Church

*Note: The contents of this history page are in large part thanks to the hard work and dedication of former pastor, Rev. Ronald G. Baxter. Ron has written a much more detailed document, “A History Of The Nictaux Baptist Church 1779 - 1978”, which is available for viewing at the CFC.