The Ambu South Seas Evangelical Church (SSEC) community near Auki, Malaita province will come alive today with the start of its 50th Golden Jubilee celebration.
Yesterday more delegates have arrived with many more today.
Last night delegates from Guadalcanal and Makira have arrived while those from the Malaita’s five regions will be arriving this morning.
The grand official opening of the event will start today morning with a parade. This will start at the Alegegeo secondary school sports grounds to Ambu village near Auki.
The parade will be followed by speeches to officially open the celebration.
Guest of honor to the event will be the country’s deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga who will be delivering his key note address to launch the celebration.
Aoke Langalanga Member of Parliament (MP) Mathew Wale and the Malaita provincial premier Edwin Suibaea will also deliver their address to the congregation.
The program will run for over four days with the official closing on Sunday.
The gathering is expecting between 6000 to 7000 delegates from as far as Vanuatu in the Eastern region and provinces in the Solomon Islands that have SSCE church establishments.
The figure was confirmed by the chairperson of the Golden Jubilee organizing committee Mr Timious Bai.
“We are expecting around 7,000 delegates to attend the historical event”.
He said some delegates from Makira were expected to arrive last night. Those from the Western region and Renbel region are already in Ambu.
“A small delegate from the Vanuatu region have arrived last night (Tuesday) as well.”
Despite the current unfavourable condition, the spirits amongst the members are high as they ready to kick start the event today.
The Ambu SSCE 50th Golden Jubilee marks the arrival of the SSEC mission in Ambu Malaita in 1964.
Brief history of the mission
The SSEC Mission Originates from the organization “Queensland Kanaka Mission (QKM)” in Queensland- Australia, 1886, as an evangelical and non-denominational church targeting Kanakas (blackbirded laborers at the sugarcane plantations, mostly from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu).
Florence Young, a sister of Arthur, Horace and Ernest Young, the owners of the Fairymead plantation on which the mission was located, was largely responsible for the establishment of the mission.
She served as secretary of the organization.
At its height in 1904–05, she employed 19 missionaries, 118 unpaid “native teachers,” and celebrated 2150 conversions.
Young used pidgin English and illustrations to explain the resurrection and other Christian ideas.
The South Seas Evangelical Mission (SSEM) was established in 1904 by Ms. Young as a branch of the Queensland Kanaka Mission.
Its purpose was to follow the workers back to their homeland, and maintain their religious instruction there. At that time fewer workers were coming, due to the White Australia policy.
Florence Young continued to administer the organization, from Sydney and Katoomba, and made annual trips to the island until 1926.
Between 1906 and 1920, the SSEM established small enclaves on the coast of islands.
On Malaita, these enclaves were always under threat from the more powerful bush groups. The first missionary in the Kwaio territory, for instance, was killed, ostensibly to purify a curse, but more because of the perceived threat to their power.
Under pressure from the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, the Mission re-evaluated its language policy, and in the 1920s began to use English as a medium of instruction, instead of pidgins or local languages; however, to facilitate understanding, they devised simplified English.
The SSEM was criticized for using its religious influence to support the Malaita company, which was led by the Young family in Queensland, and maintained close connections with the mission.
After World War II, the experience of many Solomon Islanders that not all whites are strict Christians made some upset that the SSEM withheld what they saw as the real key to power, education beyond literacy.
Some whites were then ejected from churches as Malaita Bible teachers participated in the Maasina Rule movement.
The South Seas Evangelical Church was established in 1964 under its current name, and became independent from the mission in 1975.
This year, Amu Community is celebrating the 50th Golden Jubilee Anniversary of the establishment of the SSEC mission.
By CHARLEY PIRINGI