Presbyterianism was planted in Halifax after the American Revolution and grew slowly. The Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, founded in 1817, evolved by degrees into The Presbyterian Church in Canada, established in 1875. This was a union of unions based on the Westminster Standards (1643), which gave the Church of Scotland – the Kirk – its distinctive character.
The Presbyterian Church of Saint David was born in 1925, when its parent, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, was in danger of disintegrating in the face of inter-denominational church union among Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists.
None of the eight Presbyterian congregations in metropolitan Halifax voted to opt out of the new United Church of Canada, so those Presbyterians who did not wish to ebb and flow with the ecclesiastical tide found themselves within an emaciated Church and without a congregation or church building.
The Presbyterian men and women who resisted union did so positively and constructively by first forming the Halifax chapter of the Presbyterian Church Association in 1924 and then establishing The Presbyterian Church, Halifax (incorporated, 1925).
Soon afterwards, the Presbyterians leased and then purchased the former Grafton Street Methodist Church as a congregational home. Built in 1868-69, in the early English style of Trinity Methodist in Charlottetown, the building was designed by David Sterling, architect of Fort Massey Presbyterian (now United) Church in Halifax, and is a registered municipal heritage property. It stands over and in the midst of the Old Methodist Burying Ground of Halifax, one of the most sacred sites of Maritime Methodism.
In 1930 The Presbyterian Church, Halifax, was renamed in honour of the saintly King David I of Scotland, who reigned from 1124 to 1153.
In 1970 The Presbyterian Church of Saint David hosted the 96th General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, which had not convened in Halifax since 1910.
In 1975 the Church celebrated its centenary and the Congregation its golden jubilee. Throughout its more than 75-year history, Saint David’s has been the first church of Presbyterianism in Halifax, and has been parent to congregations in the city and beyond.
Saint David’s is a family-centred Christian community known for its special ministry to children and youth, no less than for its mighty ministry of word and music. It joyfully shares with all people its long tradition of evangelical preaching, and the public worship of God in spirit and in truth.
…from the St. Davids – Halifax website – Since 1925, our congregation has gathered in downtown Halifax to worship and witness as Presbyterian Christians. We offer this brief historical sketch to tell you about our roots. We thank Barry Cahill, our Congregational Archivist, for writing this article.