On Sunday, 2 December 2001, the Stratham Church was dedicated. After much preparation, and many invitations, the little church was completely full as the congregation rose to sing Samuel Wesley’s great hymn, “The Church has One Foundation”.
The Bible reading was taken from John 4:5-15, and Br. Southwell gave his address based on that incident in Jesus’ life where He met the woman at the well and discussed many great things with her. After being questioned on the best place to worship, Jesus declared that the time was coming when the believers would worship “in spirit and truth”. This led into a look at present truth and a brief explanation of what we believe as the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, for the benefit of the many non-Adventist visitors present. The Stratham young people presented musical and singing items and Mr. Rodney Shaw sang two beautiful solo items, “Bless This House” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.
A special time was given for memories, when members of the local community told us of incidents connected with the church over the last seventy years that it has stood in Stratham as All Souls Anglican Church. Prior to being rebuilt at Stratham, the church had been St. Katherines at Wellington Mills, a tiny timber town some forty kilometres away. Over the years there had been many marriages, christenings, confirmations, funerals and other events there and these had helped to make the church special to so many local people. The local community is entirely unanimous in its’ support for and pleasure at the church being once again a place of worship and praise to God. They are delighted at the way in which the building has been sympathetically restored and extended in keeping with the original style and character.
Time for thanksgiving enabled us to remember God’s goodness in leading us to find this church to purchase and the way in which everything has gone so quickly and smoothly. The builder who had been engaged to do the restoration work attended the service and was able to be congratulated. It was no small feat to track down and skilfully use all the materials necessary for matching so carefully the original fabric of the building. Also thanked were the many others who had helped out with contributions of time and means with restoring furniture, landscaping, cleaning, painting and much more.
After the benediction, all were invited to remain for a light luncheon and without exception everybody stayed on and mingled freely, members and visitors alike. It was a wonderful opportunity to witness. We hope and pray that this little church may be a lighthouse in this part of the world and that through her, many souls may be brought to Christ, our strength and Redeemer.