Taihape Seventh-day Adventist Church in north New Zealand celebrated a reopening ceremony on Sabbath, August 29, after being closed for 13 years.
The ceremony was supported by the nearby congregations of Whanganui, Raetihi and Palmerston North churches, and visitors travelled from even as far as Napier.
The church originally closed its doors after the congregation dwindled to just one person in 2007. However, the building remained in Adventist ownership and was rented out to other church groups. As such, there was a building but no Adventist congregation—until now.
“I am so pleased to hear that there is renewed interest in Taihape church,” said Pastor Ben Timothy, North New Zealand Conference president, who pastored this church as part of his first district.
Palmerston Central church pastor Justin Strauss led the service and spoke about Nehemiah and his call to build up the work of God and breach the walls that had been broken. Elder Terri A Kara from Raetihi took the Sabbath school lesson and shared her excitement about the reopening.
“Praise the Lord for His restoration of our Sanctuary as a place of worship for Taihape, Raetihi and [other] rural towns,” she said. According to elder Kare, the biggest Whanau group that day was the Pehi Whanau, numbering 16, including third generation Adventist mokopuna (grandchildren) of Koro Bill and Jen Pehi, founder of the Maori Ministry at the conference Te Karere.
Elder Kara continued, “Adding to the joy, it was a blessing to still have a member of the original Taihape Church basking in the fellowship as believers filled the church with worship.”
In the work to establish this new congregation, a group of believers nearby have committed to attend Taihape church each fortnight to support the church in outreach and mission work.
One gentleman, who, through following the work of Adventist Media, had become convinced about the Sabbath, stood up and testified that he had been praying God would work a miracle and open an Adventist church in Taihape. When he heard the church might open, he came to see for himself. This was an encouragement to everyone who attended, and an answer to many prayers.