The rich history of the Greenville Baptist Church began in 1853, when Father Richard Preston visited Greenville in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia – a village originally known as Salmon River. Father Preston was not only impressed with progress in the area but also the strong will of the people who resided there. He soon formed the Greenville Church, which thrived and became an important community hub. As was his custom, Father Preston left the region after establishing the church, but made sure it was in good hands under the direction of Elder David Diaz. The church respected the work done by Elder Diaz, however there were limitations to his order, as he could neither administer the Lord’s supper nor perform marriages and baptisms. These ceremonies were done by visiting clergy as well as an often-visiting Father Preston. Elder Diaz was loved by everyone due to his gentle and patient nature, choosing to lead his congregation with love and peace. He served the Lord for over 80 years and lived to 110 years of age.
Elder Diaz was not the only person to provide service to the church, as powerful and respected men such as Father Manning, Father Dimmock, Father Cogswell and Father Chipman would regularly visit, providing service and the Lord’s supper.
The church was not without its hardships, however, as many parishioners, especially the younger members, decided to attend service in the United States. The younger members claimed that they received more remuneration for their labour when attending the US churches. Financial hardships also hit the church, so much so that other churches such as the Hebron Church provided assistance to the Greenville Church as did local clergy such as Deacon Gridley, who gave his own money to help with church repairs.
Through the years, the church experienced many ups and downs. In 1907, there was a severe lack of pastors in the province. Things improved for the Greenville Church in 1915 with the arrival of Reverend Martin Luther Anderson, who encouraged the youth to attend during the summer months. Church attendance increased overall during that time due to Reverend Anderson’s kind influence in the community.
Reverend Anderson became an important figure in Greenville and throughout the province. He started his work in 1912 when he received his preaching license at Horton Academy. He then dedicated 41 years of his life to religious service, did missionary work in Digby, Bridgetown, and Middleton, and of course, spent a lot of his time in Greenville.
June 27, 1993 marked a very special day for the Greenville African United Baptist Church. Not only was it the 140th anniversary of the church but also the day that the building officially became a heritage property. It remains a symbol of hope and faith in the community of Greenville.