The Church of Miracles
In 1971, Fred Vaughn and Timothy Starr, two representatives of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, came to Dartmouth to meet with Elwin and Dorothy Laidlaw and discuss the possibility of planting a church. Elwin was a deacon at one of the United Baptist churches in town and was not simply going to leave his duties there. However, as the possibilities were discussed, the three men went and stood on a hill overlooking the area of Forest Hills, currently under development. "There," Laidlaw said, "where that big tree is. That would be an ideal location for a church." Situated on a knoll, the site would very visible to traffic coming from either direction.
Still not certain, a phone call informed Laidlaw that a single pastor by the name of Clair Hofstetter was packed and on his way to Dartmouth. In the providence of God, another couple, Al and Madeline Wigmore had been transferred to the area from Temple Baptist, in Sarnia, Ontario. They called Laidlaw to tell him that they were in town at the Dartmouth Inn. Providentially, it was the same inn at which Hofstetter was staying.
In the meantime, the Laidlaws had begun a neighbourhood Bible study at their home. Some of this group would form the beginnings of a church along with the Laidlaws, Wigmores and Hofstetter. Meetings began in the basement of the house the pastor bought and a piano was purchased from a "drinking house" complete with cigarette burns to prove it. The barkeep reduced the price by $50 saying, "It has led a life of sin long enough!.
When property was finally sought for construction of a building in 1976, the only land available was in a marshy area. The deal had almost been struck when Laidlaw received a call to inform him that a mistake had been made. The property in question had been set aside for another purpose. Already facing opposition to the beginning of a Fellowship work in town, this was another defeat. Then the man on the other end of the line added, "But I have another piece of property in exchange." This land turned out to be none other than the property with the big oak tree on it--the originally speculated land! God moves in mysterious ways.
Forest Hills Fellowship Baptist Church was the first work planted in the Atlantic by the Fellowship. It is also the only continuing Fellowship work to plant another thus far. As God's providence had worked so auspiciously throughout Forest Hills' history thus far, it was one of her sons who would one day pastor this daughter work.
[Adapted from A Glorious Fellowship of Churches, edited by Michael A. G. Haykin and Robert B. Lockey]