‘It took me right back’: Africville holds first Easter Sunday service in 50 years
Published Sunday, April 16, 2017 2:49PM ADT
Last Updated Sunday, April 16, 2017 6:32PM ADT
Dozens of people gathered at the Africville Museum at first light Sunday morning to watch history come alive at a special service.
The Seaview United Baptist Church was unexpectedly torn down in 1967 and Sunday’s service was planned to be in the same style asthose held in the old church.
"Thank God for the style that was here (Sunday) morning because it's the same style that they did with the shouting and the testimonies and giving god the glory and singing," said former Africville resident Beverly Dixon-David.
Stan Carvery played organ at the original Seaview church, and was back on the keyboard 50 years later. The songs sung were also the same as those heard in the church for decades.
Testimonials were also a big part of services in Africville. Several people shared stories, experiences and anecdotes during the present day service.
“It took me right back,” said former Africville resident Irvine Carvery. “It was just a matter of closing your eyes and you were back at that service in 1967."
While the goal of Sunday's service was to commemorate the importance of the church to the Africville community, there was also time to remember the sorrow many members felt when the church was demolished.
Peter Kelly was the mayor of Halifax in 2010 when the Halifax Regional Municipality apologized to the people of Africville and allocated money for this museum to be built.
“It was taken away in a very unceremonial way. It was done wrong," said Kelly. "This day gives us a chance to rethink those mistakes of the past and to be here in the church to recognize that the community is still strong, and will always be strong."
Kelly believes it’s important to the community to have the church back, even though it was taken in an unconventional way.
“As part of the apology and wanting to bring back the community, the church was very instrumental and very key to that overall apology," he said.
That's a sentiment echoed by Sunday Miller at the Africville Museum.
"We need to try and correct some things,” said Miller. “Fifty years ago, the people of Africville were crying."
Miller says though Sunday’s ceremony is a good starting point, there’s still work to be done.
"Fifty years later when we're again celebrating the birthday of Canada. Let's give the people of Africville something to celebrate," said Miller.
Miller hopes Sunday's service will be celebrated for years to come, in a community they once called home.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Priya Sam.