Construction has begun on the first Seventh-day Adventist church building on the South Pacific island of Nauru after the church acquired a 99-year lease on a plot of land.
The Adventist Church has 32 members on Nauru, and they are thrilled about the prospect of worshipping in their own sanctuary, the South Pacific Adventist Record reported.
“After almost 10 years, church members are excited about the construction,” it said.
Land in Nauru is expensive and not easily transferred to others. Nauru is the smallest country in the South Pacific, with 9,400 people living on 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) of phosphate rock. The only smaller country in the world by population is Vatican City, with some 850 people.
The land for the church was donated by a local church member, Steve Mwea Amwano, who was grateful for his education at Navasau Adventist High School in Fiji, church leaders said. In exchange for the land, the church agreed to build a two-bedroom house for Mwea Amwano and his family on property that he owns elsewhere on Nauru.
The transfer of the land lease started in 2011. The lease first had to be moved from Mwea Amwano’s family to Mwea Amwano himself. Then Mwea Amwano transferred it to the Adventist Church. Each time, the documents had to go through Nauru’s parliament and be approved by the president.
In another complication, the Seventh-day Adventist Church also had get registered in Nauru, a process that was completed in 2013.
Now the church’s Trans Pacific Union Mission, of which Nauru is an attached district, is working on raising the church, a double-story building with a hall, kitchen, and rooms for youth and children Sabbath school classes downstairs and a main worship hall upstairs. The project also includes the construction of a pastor’s house.
It was not immediately clear when the church would open.
The Adventist Church is also looking into the possibility of opening an elementary school. Ronald Stone, ministerial secretary of the Trans Pacific Union Mission, who is overseeing the project, has met with key people in Nauru’s government about the school plans, Adventist Record said.
“There is enough space to build classrooms on the current church land,” it said.
With the local congregation may be small, its members are active in the community, including visiting people at the Nauru Regional Processing Center, an Australian immigration detention and offshore asylum processing center.