A home away from home: Sydney Portuguese-speaking Adventist church turns 40

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The Seventh-day Adventist Portuguese-speaking church in Sydney (NSW) celebrated its 40th anniversary on July 21.

The event, held at the church’s headquarters in Ashfield, brought together more than 230 people, including current and former church members, friends from the community and Portuguese-speaking community leaders.

Featuring a documentary recounting the church’s history, the celebration reflected on the enduring importance of the church in the Portuguese-speaking community and its commitment to outreach and community initiatives. As a result of the special program, one person requested baptism and four others expressed interest in studying the Bible.

Sydney Portuguese was established by Portuguese-speaking immigrants who, far from their homeland, gathered to hold worship services in their native language and share their faith. Although initially composed of Portuguese immigrants, it also had representation from Brazilians, Angolans and Mozambicans.

Today, the congregation has 140 baptised members in its official records. However, their special programs and small groups are attended annually by around 350 people, according to local leaders.

Church elder Marcelo Bussacarini has been in Australia for 15 years and explained the significant role Sydney Portuguese plays in the lives of those far from their home country. “More than just providing spiritual nourishment, the Sydney Portuguese community becomes a true family, welcoming and caring for each individual with affection and empathy,” he said.

“When I arrived [in Australia], I faced emotional and adaptation challenges. Leaving friends and family behind in Brazil was painful. However, upon encountering the church in Sydney, I found a welcoming refuge that filled my heart.”

Community and outreach focus

The congregation has active ministries and offers various initiatives to engage members and connect with the community. Small groups are one of the focus areas, with seven groups currently active and others preparing to begin their meetings.

Members also offer weekly Bible studies for those interested in learning more about the Bible. They hold prayer weeks twice a year to share more about Jesus with the community.

Social projects are also a significant part of their activities. One of them, “Mother’s Embrace”, provides support and special care for mothers who have no family in Australia. Church members prepare meals, deliver food and take care of children while the mothers rest or take care of themselves, providing a sense of belonging and support. Another relaunched initiative is the “Christian Exchange”, which aims to welcome Portuguese-speaking individuals arriving in Australia for studying, working or temporary living.

With a constant influx of immigrants arriving in Sydney, local pastor Richard Valença emphasised that the congregation aims to be a positive influence on people, especially those who speak Portuguese. 

“Our goal is to continue being a welcoming, inclusive church committed to sharing the good news of the gospel, providing comfort and spiritual guidance to all who cross our path,” said Pastor Valença. 

Watch the documentary:

With information from the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.

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