February 27, 2021

The new leader of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada is breaking barriers

According to First Lady of Color, leader of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada, a lot more work remains to be done to ensure that churches welcome everyone.

At one time, black people were not allowed to participate in many aspects of the Baptist church, and the pastor of the New Horizons Baptist Church in Halifax said that racism led to the creation of their own churches. Rhonda Britain said.

Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada provide resources and support for member churches in eastern Canada. Britain has previously held leadership positions, including vice president, but said accepting the role of president was an important milestone for the organization.

“There were only six black presidents, including us, and only three female presidents, including us,” he told CBC Radio. Information morning. “So I’m the first cross between the two, so this is historically significant in this historical era of black women.”

He spoke with UK host Bordia Clark about what the character means and where he wants to take it.

Their dialogue has been edited for clarity and length.

How big of a deal is it to achieve this tomorrow? What kind of trip is this?

Since I was in Nova Scotia now 18 plus years old, I worked with Canadian Baptists, and that was our convention organization. When I got here to get involved and understand what they were, I made it my career and how we participate as member churches.

I love the setting. I love the people there. I have served in the Assembly for many years, so when I was nominated for the post of Vice President, I gladly accepted. This is great, because if you think about the Maritime Baptist Conference, which is 175 years old, I was the first black woman.

Reverend Dr. Rhonda Britton is a pastor at Halifax, the first black female leader of Canadian Baptists in Atlantic Canada. 7:42

Baptist Churches, I think there was a time when you, like a pastor in New Horizons, were separate from other Baptist churches, but that too was part of the journey.

I think the history we have makes this even more meaningful. Black churches, historically black churches in Nova Scotia or Atlantic Canada, and our white colleagues … Initially, we all worshiped together, but black people were not allowed to actively participate in church, you know, keeping offices and things like that. We had to sit in some places because it was racial discrimination. This is the time you stay in your place, we will let you stay here.

So, after a while, black people decided to start their own churches, so historically our black churches are born out of racism. The history most familiar to me is when we founded black communities, especially here in Nova Scotia, where we worshiped individually and individually. When you think about who Christians should be, it is completely contrary to our understanding that God has a desire for us.

Britain is the first woman to become bishop of New Horizons Baptist Church in Halifax. (Radio Canada)

Do you think there is still work to be done in terms of enrollment to Canadian Baptist churches in Atlantic Canada?

Absolutely. In theory, churches are open to all. When I first came here, I was serving in a church in New Glasgow, and in New Glasgow I was the only black clergyman. So people will look at me and say, ‘I always wanted to come to your church, but I don’t know if I could,’ which surprised me as a person from New Jersey, you can walk into any church you want. There may be some churches that turn heads when you walk, but you can definitely go there.

So even with New Horizons people still have that attitude. People in the non-black neighborhood see this as this black church, and perhaps they are not welcomed into this black church.

Clearly you want to send a different message. For example, what about people from different sexual orientations?

All people are welcome. Our doors are open to all, and we all welcome them with enthusiasm and love. Because we have to share with everyone the same grace, the same grace, the same love that we receive from God, so we try to do it as best we can.

What is the job of the president?

If you compare it to the secular world, it’s like being the chairman of an organization’s board of directors, isn’t it? We have a management team and then we have our actual operational staff. We operate in the same way as set out in that policy and try to ensure that we adhere to it. We work with our partner organizations to make sure we get the gospel right there, first and foremost, right? Ensuring that our churches are thriving, that we are raising leaders for these churches in this day and age, that the church did not enjoy the same level of fame and emotional space in the hearts of the people was at the center of the community as it once did.

We have to work hard to connect the younger generation with the church and then they have enough attention in the church and they want to get up and be leaders in the church so we focus more on that.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – look at being black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.