A new era began for Fulton College yesterday as approximately 600 people gathered to celebrate the opening of the Sabeto campus by General Conference president Dr Ted Wilson and Fiji Education minister Filipe Bole.
The $FJD20 million construction is almost complete, with classes scheduled to start March 10. The buildings, including staff and student housing (for 240 students and 20 married units), classrooms, admin block and a multi-purpose centre, are completed but yet to be furnished.
After a number of legal cases and disputes with the traditional landowners at Fulton’s Tailevu site, the decision was made in 2007 to relocate. The relocation schedule released in 2007 had the site opening in March 2010, however as Principal Dr Stephen Currow joked it was better late than never. “So today we are only 1420 days late in opening this new campus. But we are here.”
Dr Currow thanked former TPUM president, Pastor Waisea Vuniwa for his role in finding the current site. The development was assisted by a General Conference thirteenth Sabbath offering and donation of $US1 million.
The decision to move had its detractors. However the new site, 15 minutes from Nadi International Airport, is perfectly placed to cater to the up to 60 per cent of Fulton’s students who come from overseas.
Tribute was also paid to Barbara Allen, who attended on behalf of her late husband, Graham, the original project manager for the new site. His nephew, Greg Allen and Mike Dixon had taken over the project after he was killed in a cycling accident.
Distinguished guests included the Solomon Island’s minister for education, representatives of the tribes who own the land, officers of the South Pacific Division, Trans-Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) and the Fiji Mission.
Both Dr Wilson and Mr Bole were given the opportunity to present a keynote address.
Mr Bole praised Fulton and the role it played in not only in Fiji but in the whole South Pacific region. He recognised that Fulton would be producing the region’s future leaders.
“Without a well-prepared human mind, the abundance of information available can be a cacophony not a symphony,” said Mr Bole. “Your education at Fulton will prepare you to conduct the orchestra of the world’s information.”
Dr Wilson remarked on the progress that had been made in the three years since he had visited the Sabeto site. “To see how God has blessed, I know this will be an incredible institution.”
In his address, he alluded to the Mountain of the Sleeping Giant that Fulton rests at the feet of and reminded the audience of another sleeper, Jacob. He described Jacob’s dream when he was running from his brother, Esau, and claimed the promises that God made to Jacob for the new campus. “Surely God is in this place. Let it be the Bethel, for many students who need to meet the Lord, may this be the place they meet God.”
On such an historic day for the 109-year old college that has trained so many Pacific ministers, it seemed fitting that the first official event after the opening was an ordination.
"Surely God is in this place. Let it be the Bethel, for many students who need to met the Lord, may this be the place they meet God."
That evening, Pastor Ragoso Tagaloa’s call to ministry was recognised, in front of his fellow lecturers of Fulton College and his parents who had come from Brisbane.
With four presidents of the Seventh-day Adventist Church present—Drs Wilson and Barry Oliver of the South Pacific Division, as well as Trans-Pacific Union Mission president, Pastor Glenn Townend, and Fiji Mission president, Pastor Luke Narabe—every level of the Adventist church was represented.
The Nadi English church choir provided stirring music as the Tagaloas were welcomed to ministry. One of the highlights of the evening was the speech of Kelera Suka, also a lecturer at Fulton, as she welcomed Pastor Tagaloa’s wife, Dorothy, as a partner in ministry and outlined the challenges and highlights of being a pastor’s wife.
Pastor Tagaloa worked in American Samoa at Maranatha and Leone churches before accepting a call to Fulton to lecture in the theology department.
Ragoso and Dorothy have seven children.