Leaders Dedicate Church at Birthplace of Adventism in the PNG Highlands

Ted N. C. Wilson attended the dedication and spoke to church and community members.

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record
Leaders Dedicate Church at Birthplace of Adventism in the PNG Highlands
Togoba founding church member and head elder Nori has been waiting 30 years for the church project to be finished. [Photo: Adventist Record]

After 30 years of planning and building, church leaders finally dedicated the Togoba 1 Seventh-day Adventist Church in a special service on May 2.

General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson traveled from the site where he was preaching an evangelistic series in Minj, Jiwaka province to Mount Hagen, Western Highlands province, for the opening of the Togoba 1 church.

The church was started in 1986 as a bush-material building before the members had the dream to build a permanent and lasting structure in 1995.

Elder Nori, one of the founding members of the church, and father of Roger Nori, current Western Highlands Mission (WHM) chief financial officer, said the church members had been waiting for this day for a long time and were very excited to see it.

Local Pathfinder leader Seth Mungabe said, “It is our blessing that Pastor Wilson will come to dedicate and bless our church.” The church’s Pathfinders, Adventurers, and Youth Ambassadors lined up to welcome Wilson. According to Mungabe, the church has 180 members, along with 60 Pathfinders, 36 Adventurers, and 20 Youth Ambassadors.

In his welcome, WHM secretary Solomon Paul shared that there are now more than 123,000 Adventist members in the WHM territory, and he welcomed Wilson on behalf of the mission’s seven provinces.

“We also acknowledge our fathers and mothers who were the pioneers of this church,” he said. “To all the pioneers, this is the day we looked forward to, and now it has come.”

Togoba was the first place in the Highlands to have an Adventist presence when Australian missionary Len Barnard set up a leper colony there in 1947. It was fitting, then, that Togoba was also the site of the mega health clinic that ran in the week before PNG for Christ and administered more than 18,000 treatments to those who came from all parts of the country.

Paul reminded the church members that the mega health clinic was going back to the way they had started in the region — helping and healing people.

Before praying and officially dedicating the church, Wilson addressed those gathered in celebration. He likened the church members to the table in front of him having four legs — physical, mental, social, and spiritual. “When one of those legs is not working right, the table doesn’t work.” He encouraged them to continue the work of their forebears.

“Thank you for your faithfulness,” he said. “From that humble beginning helping lepers, God has helped you realize the importance of health and service.”

“A church is not just a building,” he continued. “A church is the people. Yes, it stands as a great symbol of invitation, a sentinel a proclaimer of truth. But it is only when people go out and visitors come in that lives are changed.

“God asks for us to be active in our work. Diligent people who are focused on a mission. Togoba church can be a place of activity and competence.”

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

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record