A HEAVY shower failed to dumpen the opening ceremony of the South Seas Evangelical Church (SSEC) 50th anniversary celebrations at Auki, Malaita yesterday.
Instead, church members counted it as a “shower of blessing” as they paraded from Aligegeo playing ground to Ambu church where the celebrations will be held until Sunday.
The celebration is being attended by delegates from Vanuatu , and Makira region in the east, Guadalcanal in the central region, Renbel in the south, Western Solomon and the four regions from Malaita.
Political representation was also noticeable, with the presence of Aoke/Langalanga MP Mathew Wale, deputy prime minister Manasseh Maelanga, and Finance minister Rick Hou.
Leaders of Anglican and Catholic denominations in Malaita were also present at the opening ceremony.
As the parade comes to its close at Ambu and official speeches began, the heavens opened its rims and the sunshine came in place of rain.
Mr Maelanga congratulated the SSEC church for attaining its 50th \year as an independent church from what used to be the South Seas Evangelical Mission (SSEM), which was started in the sugar cane plantation fields in Queensland, A ustralia, more than 100 years ago.
SSEM was brought over to Solomon Islands by those taken there to work on the fields, and remained one of the mainstream churches until 50 years ago, when SSEC was borne and became independent of its Australian founders.
Mr Maelanga yesterday paid tribute to founders of the church and wish the current leadership the best for future.
“Today marks the success of their efforts and hard work they have made over those initial years, ensuring you and I have the privilege of enjoying life in Christ,” Mr Maelanga said.
“Our gathering today is none other, but to celebrate and acknowledge the bold and brave decision our passed church leaders have made through their faith in Christ.
“We, today’s generations should be proud of them, that we are the beneficiaries of the faith our leaders had when they accept the responsibility to take over the difficult task of ensuring the church grows to impact the lives of all of us today”.
Mr Maelanga urged all leaders of today to maintain and keep that spiritual flame burning.
“The challenge for us leaders of today is how can we keep this spiritual flame burning and are we prepare to pass it to the next generation,” he said.
Malaita premier Edwin Suibaea also congratulated the Ambu SSEC Church for its 50th Golden Jubilee.
“Today is a historical event for us all. This marks and shows the maturity of the SSEC church, especially here at Ambu community,” Mr Suibaea said.
“As premier responsible for the province, I would like to wish you a 50th anniversary Golden Jubilee.
“The Solomon Islands was a Christian country, and it needs true lasting peace among our people, and only through the church we will live harmoniously together”.
SSEC Bishop Reverend Mathias Lima welcomed the delegates and asked them to be filled with praise as they spend the rest of the week in Ambu.
“This is a blessed day for us all to celebrate this great day, and I prayed that all of us will have a blessed week here in Ambu community”.
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.
SSEC was established in 1964 under its current name, and became independent from the mission in 1975.
By CHARLEY PIRINGI