THOUSANDS of members of the Church of Melanesia last Sunday witnessed the official opening and consecration of a new chapel for Melanesian brothers at Tabalia.
The ‘milestone achievement’ had been described by church leaders as a blessing from the giving hands of many Anglican Christians in the country.
Solomon Star stringer John Toki who attended the consecration and opening of the new chapel said members of Melanesian brother from household throughout the country attended the event.
Mr Toki said according to the head brother, the saint Mark’s chapel was planned and initially started in 2010.
“It was estimated that the chapel will cost around $900,000, and that was a worry because the money has to come from somewhere,” the head brother said.
He said at its completion, the cost exceeded the estimate and landed at $1.3 million.
“It was a huge blessing from the help of Christians within the dioceses and outside that the project came to fruition.”
The head brother deeply expressed appreciation to all who have contributed one way or the other towards the successful completion of the chapel.
Arch Bishop Rev David Vunagi said the old chapel was deconsecrated in 2010 to make way for the bigger chapel and with the help of aspiring Christians despite financial difficulties, the project was blessed.
“The support for this cause was overwhelming and we hope the support will remain,” Rev Vunagi said.
Another ceremony held concurrently with the opening of the new chapel was the consecration of three graves of Melanesian Brothers buried at Tabalia.
Tabalia will this week be kept busy with a conference and another ceremony which will see the admission of new brothers and releasing of brothers who have decided to move on in life.
Tabalia is the headquarter of the Melanesian Brotherhood (MBH) located in North East Guadalcanal.
Tabalia was the customary inheritance of Ini Kopuria, founder of the Brotherhood, who donated the land in 1925 to the Tasiu.
As the Mother House, Tabalia is the headquarters for the Solomon Islands Region of the Melanesian Brotherhood.
From Tabalia, the Melanesian Brotherhood looks after 38 households (monasteries) in the Solomon Islands.
It is also the location for quadrennial Great Conference, where representatives from all three regions meet.
Their efforts in peace making
During the "ethnic tension" of 1999-2000 in the Solomon Islands, the Brotherhood participated in peace-making efforts which led to a ceasefire and to the Townsville Peace Agreement of October 2000.
They then gathered weapons from combatants and discarded them at sea.
One rebel leader, now serving life, Harold Keke, did not comply with the agreement and continued to cause trouble.
Brother Nathaniel Sado, who knew Keke, went to reason with him, but did not return. On April 23, 2003, six brothers went to investigate reports that Keke had murdered Br. Nathaniel, and they did not return either.
Scanty reports then indicated that Keke was holding them hostage, but on August 8, 2003 the Police Commissioner was able to inform the Brotherhood that all six were dead.
Keke and his men surrendered several days later, and the bodies of the seven brothers were exhumed and brought back to Honiara for autopsy.
Br. Nathaniel had been tortured for several days before dying, three of the others had been shot on arrival and the remaining three had been tortured and shot the next day. The bodies were interred at Tabalia in 2003.
In 2004, former Prime Minister of Fiji, Laisenia Qarase presented the Brotherhood with the first prize in the regional category of the 4th Pacific Human Rights Awards "for its sacrifice above the call of duty to protect the vulnerable and build peace and security in Solomon Islands during the civil conflict and post-conflict reconstruction".
Their names were added to the book of contemporary martyrs and placed, along with an icon on the altar of the Chapel of Saints of Our Times.
When the Eucharist was over, bishops and others came to pray in front of the small altar in the chapel.
Now their icon stands at the Cathedral as a
reminder of their witness to peace and of the multi-ethnic character of Global
By EDNAL R. PALMER
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