The spirit still dwells in Little River

Jamie Heap
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Baptist church’s historical committee compiles book based on Thompson’s initial research

LITTLE RIVER- The Little River Baptist Church has been going strong for well over 165 years. And it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.

“This is a very interesting, mission-minded church,” said Little River Baptist Church minister Chris Greer Saturday at the home of church clerk Ronald Webb. His house (Riverside Farm) was deemed a Nova Scotia Historical Property in 2000.

In January, 2010 at the Little River Baptist Church AGM, it was proposed that a book be written to record the history of Little River and its church; the idea can be traced back to Marion Thompson in 1997 on the occasion of the church’s 150th anniversary. Dedicated on October 27, 2013, the 200 page book “Where the Spirit Dwells: The History of the Little River Baptist Church, 1847-2013,” was launched.

“While the book is more about the Little River Baptist Church and the Pioneer Cemetery than it is about the community of Little River itself, we thought it best, for expediency sake, to publish the book while she (Marion Thompson) was still alive,” said Reverend Greer.

The publishing of the Where the Spirit Dwells was not the first time that members of the Little River Baptist Church felt a sense of urgency to preserve the past.

“As sometimes happens, minute books go missing, so clerk James Reid copied and commented about the books in fear that they might disappear,” said Greer.

As for the contents of Where the Spirit Dwells, it consists of 21 chapters that contain interesting anecdotes about the history of one of the area’s first churches.

“Baptisms took place, no matter if it was spring, summer, fall or winter,” said Marney Gilroy. “They would cut a hole in the ice, people would be baptized, then they would come back to this house (Ron and Dorothy Webb’s) to change clothes and continue with the service.”

According to Gilroy, the house owned by current Little River Baptist Church clerk Ronald Webb was, and is still used as a meeting place for church meetings, Bible study or prayer groups.

While founded in 1847, the physical Little River Baptist Church did not come into existence until about 1863. According to Greer, Baptist Church ministers such as John E. Cogswell and Reverend Dr. William Hobbs, who also founded Baptist churches in such places as Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia, were instrumental to both the founding and growth of Little River Baptist Church.

“Little River Baptist Church is the Mother Church of Oxford Baptist Church,” said Gilroy. "There is still a very close relationship between the two churches.”

In 1875, a number of the Little River Baptist Church’s congregation asked to be released in favour of a new church being constructed in Oxford circa 1876. Nonetheless, by 1887, some 109 people were members of the former church.

While the church’s congregation has dwindled to between 25 and 30, people from all denominations are welcome to attend its Sunday services at 9:30 am.

If you are interesting in purchasing a copy of Where the Spirit Dwells for $18.00, contact Dorothy Webb at (902) 447-2794.





Organizations: Baptist Church, Nova Scotia Historical Property, Mother Church of Oxford

Geographic location: Little River, Los Angeles, California, Oxford Sydney Australia

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