But Sunday 28th May 2023 was a special occasion for the entire community and their Associates, supporters’ families and friends both in Solomon Islands and abroad and the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM).
After years of struggle, commitment and dedication; the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia at their headquarters at Veranaso, South West of Guadalcanal, finally witnessed the consecration and dedication of their newly built church building led by the Most Reverend Leonard Dawea, Archbishop of ACOM, the Right Reverend Benedict Loe, Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal and retired bishop Nathan Tome.
The building of the new church was a massive undertaking that took several years to complete.
According to Flory Kafa, who looks after the secretarial and Administration work of the community, ‘the plan to build a new church for the community began in around 2017.’
“Our plan is to replace the old church building which was believed to have been built around 1960 that was not safe for the sisters and those of us living here at Veranaso to go for worship because of her very old state,’ she said.
‘In 2019 the old chapel was deconsecrated by the then Principal of Selwyn college, the Right Rev. David Vunagi and was later pulled down in early 2021.’ She said.
“From 2018 we began our fundraising activities and appeal for donations. With kind support from our Associates, families, friends in and around Solomon Islands, business houses, some of our Anglican members in Parliament and our mission partners in UK and Australia and the ACOM Provincial Headquarters, we manage to begin the actual work on the building in 2021.” Ms Flory added.
The construction of the new church building was done in such a way that it reflects the traditional architecture of the Melanesian culture.
Mr. Harrison Oldom, who built the chapel said, the new church building retains the size of the old church building which is 22 by 40 meters.
‘There are few minor tasks that are yet to be done to fully complete the building. Some of them are tiling, painting, incorporating traditional mat weaving at the sanctuary area and the retaining walls outside of the building.’ Mr. Harrison said.
Sister Annie Alaha, Head Sister of the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia in her acknowledgement speech said, the community is happy to have their new church building blessed and consecrated today.
“We have been using our dining hall and our dormitories for the past five years. As of today, we are so happy that we will go back to the church for our daily devotions and prayers.”
Archbishop Leonard, who is also the father of the community of the sisters of Melanesia also acknowledges all who have rendered their support through finance, materials, time and prayers for the project.
He said, this Church building is the heart of the life, mission and ministry to this community.
‘The Consecration of the new church building is a symbol of hope and renewal for the community. It was a testament to the hard work, dedication, and commitment that will serve as a beacon of hope and light for the community and will continue to be a place of worship and prayer for generations to come.’ The Archbishop concluded.
Amongst the 4000 plus people from Honiara, dioceses and nearby communities who came to witness the event, was the Acting Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Honorable Manasseh Maelanga and wife, founder of the CSM Nester Tiboe, General Secretary of the ACOM Dr. Abraham Hauriasi and other strong supporters of the community.
Twelve Novices were also admitted by the Archbishop and the Head sister of the community during this Holy Pentecost service where the Right Rev. Benedict Loe preached a powerful sermon based on the theme ‘God never stops working,’.
Here he reminded all who attended the service that we all should be fearful of God because we are the residence of the Holy Spirit who came upon us during our baptism.
He also reminded the newly admitted sisters to be faithful to their promises as they prepare to go out into the field.
The days’ celebration ended with speeches, gift presentations and entertainments.