Gander Memorial Church in Wewak, Papua New Guinea, has a problem, but it’s a good one. After more than 40 years of worshipping together, they’ve outgrown their church building.
On Sunday, June 4, the congregation came together to officially decommission the original side walls of their worship space ahead of their demolition. The roof has been extended and new side walls have already been constructed, adding an extra six metres of width to the building, which means approximately 150 more seats for worshippers. All that remains is for the old walls to be demolished.
In an attempt, perhaps, to assuage the concerns of those who treasure the memory of the construction and dedication of the building in 1970, Pastor Samuel Silas, president of the Sepik Mission, reminded the congregation that “any place where Jesus is present is a holy place”.
He was reminded, in turn, of the solid construction of the building as he attempted to remove one of the side doors as a symbolic gesture—the first step of the demolition. A number of stubborn hinge screws refused to yield to Pastor Silas’s screwdriver but several blows from a builder’s hammer removed the obstacles, allowing the ceremony to proceed.
The rapid growth of the congregation is fairly recent. In 2012 membership stood at about 250. Now, five years later, it’s at 400. According to Gander Memorial pastor, Graham Oresui, the spike in numbers is no accident.
“Every Sabbath morning the members break into eight different groups and run branch Sabbath School programs around Wewak,” he explained to Record.
And yes, this all happens before the 9:30am start of worship at Gander Memorial, with members beginning their weekly outreach activities between 6:30am and 7am. It seems breaking down walls and demolishing strongholds are activities that can start very early indeed.