October 7, 2020

In New Zealand, Adventist Congregation With Just One Member Bounces Back

Kirsten Oster-Lundqvist, Adventist Record

Taihape Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North Island of New Zealand celebrated a reopening ceremony on Saturday (Sabbath), August 29, 2020, after being closed for 13 years.

The ceremony was supported by the nearby congregations of Wanganui, Raetihi, and Palmerston North churches, and guests traveled from as far as Napier on the east coast of the country’s North Island.

The church originally closed its doors after the congregation dwindled to just one person in 2007. However, the building remained in Adventist ownership and was rented out to other church groups. As such, there was a building but no Adventist congregation — until now.

“I am so pleased to hear that there is renewed interest in Taihape church,” Ben Timothy, North New Zealand Conference president, said. Timothy had been the pastor of the church as part of his first district.

Palmerston North church pastor Justin Strauss led the service and spoke about Nehemiah and his call to build up the work of God and breach the walls that had been broken. Terri A. Kara from Raetihi took the Sabbath school lesson and shared her excitement about the reopening.

“Praise the Lord for His restoration of our sanctuary as a place of worship for Taihape, Raetihi, and [other] rural towns,” she said. According to Kara, the biggest Whanau group that day was the Pehi Whanau, numbering 16, including third-generation Adventist mokopuna (grandchildren) of Koro Bill and Jen Pehi, founder of the Maori Ministry at the conference.

Kara continued, “Adding to the joy, it was a blessing to still have a member of the original Taihape church basking in the fellowship as believers filled the church with worship.”

In the work to establish this new congregation, a group of believers nearby have committed to attend Taihape church bi-weekly to support the church in outreach and mission work.

One man, who, through following the work of Adventist Media, had become convinced about the seventh-day Sabbath, stood up and testified that he had been praying God would work a miracle and open an Adventist church in Taihape. When he heard the church might open, he came to see for himself. This was an encouragement to everyone who attended and an answer to many prayers, they said.

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.