After decades of planning and construction, Forresters Beach Seventh-day Adventist Church was formally declared open at a special church service attended by 200 people on Sabbath, April 10.
“We called it a ‘COVID-19 opening’, with the understanding that it was limited,” explained senior elder Pastor Russel Stanley (retired). “There were about 100 invitations we couldn’t send out. [But] it was a really great occasion.”
After having to postpone their original opening in March last year—just five days after COVID-19 shutdowns were introduced in the area, the congregation were glad to meet together after a long process of planning and building, and now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased.
The two-hour service was officiated by North New South Wales Conference president Pastor Adrian Raethel and Adam Crouch (MP), NSW state member for Terrigal, who carried out the opening ceremony and unveiled the plaque commemorating the occasion.
“Following significant delays and many unexpected hurdles, it was a privilege and honour to be part of the official opening of the Forresters Beach Church. This attractive and functional facility will be a ministry hub and a beacon of God’s love in the community,” said Pastor Raethel.
An amalgamation of Erina and The Entrance Adventist Churches, the new church premises is located on the corner of Bellevue Road and Kyte Place in Tumbi Umbi, NSW.
After first purchasing the land in 2013, the newly formed church had planned that their building would be completed very soon after the land was purchased, but there were many frustrating delays.
“The church has a long history. For more than 20 years we’ve endeavoured to buy land and relocate, but we’ve been stopped time and time again by protests and council regulations. To finally come together after years of planning means a lot,” said Pastor Stanley. “We had issues with ‘land offset’ legislation requiring that if you cleared an acre, you had to ‘off set’ 10 acres somewhere else to be reserved as bushland. But to save on a huge expense, the minister, Adam Crouch, told us, ‘don’t do anything for a while because we’re going to change that legislation.'”
Originally, the churches decided to join forces because Erina had outgrown its original location where it had stood for 102 years, and The Entrance church, formed 75 years ago in 1946 “was in need of further development. [So] on May 9, 2015, their church having been sold, members held their last service in that building,” explained church member Pastor Tom Evans (retired).
Meanwhile, after Erina Church sold their premises to Creighton Funeral Services, they were permitted to continue worshiping in the building until February 3, 2018. After this, Terrigal Uniting Church offered the use of their premises.
Once all council regulations were met, construction of the building itself only took nine months. “After several years the builders, Pluim Group Constructions, were able to move in and commence the building,” Pastor Evans. “This was quickly completed and the date was set for the first church service and official opening of the new facility on March 21, 2020.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the building sat empty for quite some time. Now, the congregation have a brand new building that functions as both a church and community centre. It features an all-weather drive through alcove, a very large foyer and a hall and kitchen area nearly as big as the church itself.
“We pulled out all the stops to cater for all needs,” said Pastor Stanley, adding that some have claimed it could be numbered along with the best of the church facilities in the North New South Wales Conference. “When we’re finished with COVID-19 and all the restrictions are gone, we’re going to have another day where we invite those that haven’t yet seen the building—’back to Erina and the Entrance’ reunion kind of day.”