Windsor

Sandwich First Baptist Church turns 180 years old

Members of the Sandwich First Baptist Church marked the 180th anniversary of the church on Sunday.

The church was a significant stop along the Underground Railroad

Sandwich First Baptist Church is one of the oldest active Black churches in Canada. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Members of the Sandwich First Baptist Church marked the 180th anniversary of the church on Sunday by offering a free community meal to the public followed by a "special ceremony."

The church is one of the oldest active black churches in Canada and played a key role in the Underground Railroad by providing shelter to slaves seeking freedom in Canada.

Lana Talbot, coordinator of Sandwich First Baptist Church, offers tours of the building. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

The border location of Windsor and Sandwich made it an ideal destination for escaped slaves.

"We have survived 180 years and we're still standing," said Lana Talbot, historian and coordinator of Sandwich First Baptist Church.

"I'm one of the Underground Railroad [descendants] and I love it. I'm glad I am who I am," she said.

Henry Green is the pastor at Sandwich First Baptist Church. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

According to Henry Green, the pastor at the church, the marking of the 180th anniversary "testifies the courage and determination of the members."

National Historic Site

The church has been visited by a number of prominent historical figures from black history, including Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas and John Brown.

The church was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1995 for its connection to the anti-slavery movement and designated a National Historic Site in 2000.

The construction of Sandwich First Baptist Church was completed in 1851. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

The construction of the Sandwich First Baptist Church was completed in 1851, 30 years after the original church in the same location was built.

Talbot said she hopes a museum can be built to honour the history of the church.

"I hope it lasts another 180 years," she said. "I hope our youth will pick up the torch and carry on."

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