Founded in 1832 by the Reverend Richard Preston, the son of a slave who came to Nova Scotia from Virginia, Cornwallis Street Baptist Church was originally known as the African Baptist Church. It wasn’t until 1892 that the church was incorporated as Cornwallis Street Baptist Church.
CSBC underwent extensive renovations in 1914. It is one of the buildings that survived the disastrous Halifax Explosion of 1917, serving as a temporary shelter for many who became homeless as a result of the explosion during the terrible winter following the city’s devastation. The building was also shared with various other church groups whose facilities were demolished during that catastrophe.
In 1985 this building was designated as a Municipal Heritage Property.
In 2007 CSBC called its first female pastor in its 175 year history.
CSBC has a rich history of service to the community. Its outreach work began with the women of the church delivering food parcels to help families in need. That work expanded to a clothing depot and lunch program that ran for over 25 years, dubbing the church the “dinner church”. CSBC continues to hold community barbecues and winter coat drives, along with delivering food and gift baskets at Christmas.
As part of its outreach efforts, CSBC runs “Changing Minds, Changing Lives”, a reading enrichment program held in local elementary schools throughout the school year. The church also partners with the Dept. of Education in delivering periodic Family Learning Initiative workshops to help families thrive.
In 2009 Rev. Richard Preston was designated a person of national significance by Parks Canada. The commemorative plaque is mounted outside CSBC.
CSBC is a proud member of the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia, which was also founded by the Reverend Richard Preston. Preston dubbed CSBC the “Mother Church” of the Association. The AUBA is a member of the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, which is comprised of nearly 500 Baptist churches in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. CSBC is also affiliated with the Halifax County Association of Baptist Churches, the Canadian Baptist Federation, and the Baptist World Alliance.