Pastor Rhonda Britton says the reopening of the sanctuary at New Horizons Baptist Church is imminent and will happen “in God’s time.”

The renovations to the church were expected to last two years, but the church was faced with several setbacks, including the COVID pandemic, asbestos, and the discovery of an old oil tank buried beneath the property that required bioremediation. Those issues drove up the renovation costs and caused more delays to reopening.

Britton and other church members gathered in the sanctuary earlier this week to set up for a Christmas Eve service when several baptisms are expected to take place.

“We are so excited. And when we were here yesterday unwrapping chairs and setting up this room, it was like so much excitement in the air,” Britton said in an interview with the Halifax Examiner Wednesday night.

If it goes ahead, this will be the first service New Horizons has held in its sanctuary since 2018 when the renovations first started.

“And then tomorrow, we have all of the musical people here to test the acoustics and the sound system and the mics and such, and plug in all the instruments and see how things go.”

A Black woman with short curly hair and glasses stands at a glass pulpit on a church altar. On the glass of the pulpit, are the words, "New Horizons Baptist Church, Greater, Higher, Stronger." There is a row of chairs on the altar and a large screen on the wall. And a Christmas tree decoration sits next to the pulpit.
Rev. Rhonda Britton at the New Horizons Baptist Church. Credit: Matthew Byard

Britton said for this year’s Christmas Eve service, they decided to do baptisms rather than the usual candlelight service with carols.

“Since we have been out of the building, we’ve had different people join the church to come forward for baptism, and they wanted to wait until we got back into our church before they were baptized,” Britton said. “And so we decided that coming back in, we would do that for Christmas Eve instead.”

Britton told the Examiner the planned Christmas Eve service for Saturday is now in limbo due to a setback involving Halifax Water.

“And I understand we cannot be in the building until they have put the meter in. So, we’re waiting for that and hoping that that will happen by tomorrow. But I have no idea,” she said.

Britton said she’s unsure when she’ll be contacted by Halifax Water, but hopes to let the congregation know if Saturday’s service is going forward by Thursday evening at the latest.

“But we still decided to come on in and get the sanctuary ready,” she said.

The church has already faced a few delays. Britton said the church sanctuary was initially supposed to reopen in September.

“And so the contractor said, ‘We’re sure you can get you in for Christmas. We know how important that is.’”

“Our first service, we thought it was going to be the first Sunday in December … And we had a few delays for different reasons,” said Britton. “Right now, we’re still on delay.”

Present day photo of New Horizons Baptist Church (originally called the African Chapel) undergoing renovations on Cornwallis Street
New Horizons Baptist Church during renovations in February 2022. Credit: Matthew Byard.

Even if Halifax Water is able to install the meter in time for Saturday’s service, Britton said they still may be forced to postpone the official reopening.

“And like I said, even if we find out we can go forward, now we have to worry about whether or not we’ll have power because of the storm. So, it’s just one thing after another.”

“If it doesn’t happen on Saturday, for whatever reason, then … It might be the first Sunday of the new year. You know, we might do it then,” said Britton.

“You know, we always say God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think, so we are looking forward to whenever it is, it’s God’s perfect timing. That’s what we always say. It’s all in God’s time, not our time.”

A graphic that says Funded by Canada

Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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  1. I had to google to discover where this church was, and its history. Great article otherwise, and all good luck to the church.