Past and present members of Wahroonga Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, NSW) came together for a special day of celebration on Sabbath (November 17) to mark the 60th anniversary of the church building.
Memories were shared and there was a time of reflection on the ministry and mission of the church over the past six decades.
Singing group Men of Hope provided special music for the day and Pastor Gary Kent presented the worship service message. After lunch a concert was held featuring gifted young musicians and vocalists.
Long-time member Shirley Lewis was at the official opening of the building on Sunday, November 23, 1958. Back then she was attending Windsor church—she went to the opening with a group from Windsor who were singing at the event.
Mrs Lewis started attending Wahroonga in 1961 and she has many happy memories of the church. She and her husband John were married there in 1963 and their three sons were also married in the church. Three generations of the Lewis family are current members.
“I have just always loved this church,” Mrs Lewis said. “I’ve got joy out of it.”
In a letter to members, Greater Sydney Conference president Pastor Terry Johnson offered his congratulations on the 60th anniversary.
“We thank God for the witness, evangelism, community service, engagement and the people won to Christ through the portals of this facility,” Pastor Johnson wrote.
“While we’re celebrating a significant historic moment for a place of worship, its truly the people, you the members, who are the worshipping church and we affirm you as servants and disciples of the kingdom for your dedication, perseverance and the enduring legacy that you have wrought through the power of the Spirit dwelling in your midst.
“As you prayerfully consider the future, rest assured in the knowledge that God has you in the palm of His hand, guiding, nourishing, giving wisdom and preserving you for the work He has specifically for you.
“Let’s pray together that we don’t have another 60 years of this building to care for, but rather the return of Jesus to celebrate and share the good news about.”
While the current church building opened 60 years ago, the first worship service on the Wahroonga Estate was actually held in November 1899 in a tin builders’ shed on the construction site of the Sydney Sanitarium and Hospital, as it was then known.
Pastor William Woodford organised the company into a church on May 23, 1903. There were 19 charter members.
For the next 10 years, services were held in the gymnasium of the hospital, with the first baptism held on July 2, 1904. On July 13, 1913, a new church building was dedicated by Pastor Morris Lukens. The church faced Fox Valley Rd and was located on the former site of Wahroonga Adventist School. The membership at the time was 103.
As the number of members continued to grow, a committee was formed in 1952 to draw up plans for a new church building. The foundation stone for the present structure was laid on September 9, 1956. It was engraved with the words “To the glory of God and in memory of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia.”
The church was built at a cost of just over 50,000 pounds. Internal fittings, furnishings and the organ cost another 25,000 pounds.