Zion United Baptist Church454 Prince Street, Truro, Nova Scotia B2N 1E7, Canada
Spiritual and Religious Value
Zion Baptist Church is the spiritual home to a community whose roots in Truro extend back to the late nineteenth century. The congregation’s shared historical experiences forged a strong sense of community among its members, and led them in 1896 to seek separation from the Baptist churches they had originally worshipped with in Truro. This church building is a symbol of that sense of community, the events that led to the establishment of the church, and the history of the congregation since.
Zion Baptist is valued for its association with the African-Canadian community that settled in Truro in the nineteenth century, largely as labourers, during the period of construction of the railways and later in railway operations. The community initially worshipped at First Baptist Church and its daughter congregation of Immanuel Baptist Church. In 1896 they sought separation and organized into a new congregation, Zion Baptist, worshipping in rented quarters until construction of this building was completed in 1898. The first pastor of Zion Baptist, Rev. Abraham Clements, took up his responsibilities as regular pastor in 1897.
The church is also valued for its associations with other historical figures. Portia White (1910-1968), the first African-Canadian woman to win international acclaim, was born in Truro to a musical family and sang in the choir of this church where her father was pastor. Her career as a soloist and educator became a source of pride for all Canadians, and the tree sculpture in front of the church honours her memory and accomplishments.
A long-time member of this congregation, Stanley (Chook) Maxwell (1935-2001), was one of the first black men to play professional hockey, serving on a number of Canadian and American hockey teams in the 1950s and 1960s. Maxwell was also locally prominent in baseball, and was elected into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame.
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