Halifax Elim: Ancient & Modern


I called at the Elim Church in Halifax last week. This is a fantastic piece of late 1960s modernist architecture: grey concrete, plentiful panes, a conical roof, corona and accompanying steel spire. Thankfully, the church was open, and a friendly pastor bade me welcome and offered a cup of tea. I suggested it was some former Methodist or United Reformed Church that the Elimites were able to buy at knockdown rates. Amazingly, this is a purpose-built Pentecostal Church from 1969 (or 1972 according to one online source), employing the latest style and architectural flourish. One might consider it rather dated, but isn’t all architecture? And neither is it purely utilitarian, enjoying a modular sculptural relief, modelled in concrete cast in fibreglass, as Modernmoorcher describes it (below). 

Usually preferring more classical forms of architecture, I tend to disdain the modern, yet I found this rather refreshing. In the 60s and 70s, while most denominations entered the first death throes of terminal decline, the Elim and Assembles of God denominations were still flourishing. Most retained their common sense and Biblical anchorage; the American health and wealth cancer had not yet infiltrated. In those heady days of the late sixties and early seventies, the Pentecostals were offering brave and vibrant witness to an unprecedentedly godless land. I cannot vouch for the current Elim of Halifax, but I liked what I saw, and felt an affinity to the folk I met. The building might be modern, but the age old gospel is both older than the hills and fresher than the daisies.