By HELEN TARAWA
THE Laurabada congregation of the Poreporena United Church Circuit had yet another milestone event that will go down in their history.
Saturday, Oct 31, 2020 will be remembered for a long time because it was the day when the Lakani Toi Memorial Church was officially opened.
The church is known for its famous history of the first missionaries arriving on the shores of what is now known as Hanubada (Big Village).
One of the forefathers Lakani Toi accepted the South Seas missionary Ruatoka Koro and his fellow evangelists on their arrival on the passage shores of Tubumaga and Kwaradubuna clans in 1872.
The Laurabada congregation was already in the process of working under its own leadership when it was officially declared and recognised as a congregation under the newly established and declared Poreporena Circuit on Nov 14, 1993.
Soon after the declaration of the Poreporena Circuit and the two congregations Laurabada and Lahara in November 1993, the Laurabada leaders moved quickly for the ground breaking at Laurabada Dubu Tanotano.
After this the first building was put up with a concrete floor, steel wall frames and ceiling and iron roof which was later developed to a more church-like building with walls, a pulpit, a holy communion altar and the podium.
Today the dream, vision and aspirations of the pioneer Laurabada Congregation has become a reality.
This is the order of events leading up to building of the Lakani Toi Memorial Church:
1992/93 – Urban Region synod endorsed United Church Popreporena as a circuit from the original West Port Moresby Circuit.
1993 -Nov 14, 1993 – Bishop Nou Oru in an open air service dedicated the Poreporena Circuit with its two congregations, Lahara United Church and Laurabada United Church.
1993 -In December the first Lakani Toi Memorial Church annual general meeting was held and the first congregation chairman, executives and church committees were elected.
1994 -The first year of operation for LTMC commenced but it was sharing the main Lahara church and the Poreporena Women’s Fellowship hall for church services, meetings and other activities.
1995 -The Laurabada Tantano ground breaking was done led by Rev Morea Pipi.
1996/1997 – The construction of the hall was done, supervised the LTMC finance and property committee led by Vai Reva, Toua Vai and Rei Douna. After which Laurabada Ekalesia totally moved to Laurabada and conducted all their church activities.
1998/99 -The first minister’s green house was constructed.
1999 – The renovation and upgrading of the open hall into a church like building.
2000 -The church pews appeal was done by the then chairman Mavara Sere and 83 were completed and put into the church.
2003/04 -The second minister’s yellow house was constructed
2006/2007 – The multi-purpose building proposed and the groundbreaking ceremony was done and construction began in September of 2007.
2010 – Multi-purpose hall was completed after two years of struggle with financial issues.
2012 – On March 25: Laurabada congregation was christened Lakani Toi Memorial Church.
2012/13 -Plans and drawings including the LTMC area plans by Fairfax Architects was put together but was stalled until 2019.
2017- Multi-purpose hall renovations were done and a stage like veranda was added to the building.
2018 – LTMC Ekalesia (congregation) endorsed the construction of the new LTMC church building to start the following year.
2018 – On Aug 12 the old building was decommissioned and as a tradition a piece of wall timber had to be removed to denote the demolishing of the old building and the construction of the new church.
2019 – Meetings and plans were progressed, funds were sought and negotiations were made led by church executives. A local contractor initially engaged in June/July and work commenced.
Motu Koita Assembly (MKA) Chairman Dadi Toka Jnr announced a commitment of K450,000 to completed the church building. In June 2019 Pheonix Contractors were engaged with the blessing from Governor NCD Powes Parkp and Chairman Toka.
2020 – The new Lakani Toi Memorial Church building was completed and opened on Oct 31 and the first church service was held on Sunday, Nov 1.
Over two years of hard work and commitment by the leadership of the Lauraba congregation in Hanuabada has paid off with the memorable event witnessed by Members of Parliament and prominent people in government and corporate sector including NCD Governor Powes Parkop, Civil Aviation Minister Jelta Wong and Moitu Koita Assembly Chairman Dadi Toka Jnr.
Congregation chairman Udu Vai said the new church building was the result of cooperation, commitment, dedication, partnership and making hard decisions to achieve results.
He said it had been a long journey.
“It has been a painful and difficult journey since the time we brought our thoughts together to build a modern church.
“A new church building was discussed at length and over many years but no real steps were taken to start the project.
“On that fateful day of Feb 17, 2018 on a bright sunny Saturday just like today which is of course a blessing from God, we took the real step to construct a real modern church with a ground breaking ceremony.
“It was a simple, humble but very significant occasion and we had to improvise by calling on Lahui Ako to be our guest speaker. It was an emotional occasion; our elders in our midst at that time shed tears of happiness that the transition to the new place of workshop was finally getting real.
After years of hard work a modern church building named after the first local to welcome 19th century South Seas evangelists opens in Hanuabada.
“Our commitment to our new church was reaffirmed and the journey continued from there on. It was not easy for a church group that relies heavily on the goodwill of its members, the Laurabada congregation through the annual boubou or thanksgiving contributions.
“Our annual giving to the Lord is the only source of revenue for the church and true to our commitment and devotion to the Lord we gave freely despite the difficulties in life.
“This journey demanded sacrifice, patience and perseverance to achieve this outcome and to realise the dream we all had and a desire we all had.
“The years of sacrificed has paid off in a big way for all of us. May God continue to repay you manifold for the love and commitment you all have shown to him to expand his kingdom on earth.
“All these virtues were clearly evident in the cause of this project and it is my hope that we all learnt the relevant lessons for application in any future situation.
“I am humbled by the overwhelming support you all gave to my leadership.
“We were a congregation strongly bonded in God and we endured the journey to this day,” Vai said.
Minister Wong said it was not easy to build a church or any building without funding.
“It took a lot of courage to bring people together to build this church and the building committee must be acknowledged for their hard work.
“Even though it took so long the end game was there and it shows great courage by the older generation to have brought this to completion for the younger generation to follow their footsteps,” Wong said.
Toka said the MKA was proud to have played a role in the Lakani Toi Memorial Church construction.
He said MKA had assisted with over K936,000 from its infrastructure budget.
“I thank everyone for your contribution, we built this church together.
“These are the benefits of good governance and partnership between the MKA and NCDC,” Toka said.
Parkop said the opening of the church was a real transformation.
“I’m pleased that today we are enhancing your faith and making it part of our lives.
“We are honoured to open this iconic church, this occasion will transform our lives, our village our city, our country,” Parkop said.
The construction of the church started in May 2018 and was completed in September this year.
The new LTMC was designed by local architect Harry Collin Vai and jointly funded by the church and the MKA.
The Laurabada congregation of the Poreporena Circuit had a dream of a modern church building.
Through years of hard work, perseverance and endurance that dream became a reality with the official opening of the Lakani Toi Memorial Church last month.
That event will now go down in their history.