By ANDREW ALPHONSE
ABOUT 18,000 Seventh-Day Adventist church followers ended their two-week Hela SDA region’s 50th golden jubilee celebrations in Tari, Southern Highlands province, on Sunday.
The people gathered from Dec 20 at Habare Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) mission in Tari for a two-week celebration to commemorate 50 years of the churches mission in Hela since its establishment in 1955.
The organising committee planned a host of events for the huge crowd daily and nightly that included praise and worships, private devotions in tents, sports, health talks, pioneers reflections, issues affecting the SDA church in PNG, personal viability workshops and others.
Hela Jubilee organising committee chairman Ps Aki Pawa said the event theme “Celebrating the Journey of Hope” was aimed at reflecting the efforts of church pioneers like the late Pr Louise Thomas Grieve from Sydney who established the SDA mission in Habare in 1955.
Pr Pawa said with the help of fellow national pioneers from Enga who were his assistants and pioneer Hela SDA pastors Daniel Teta, John Marape, Luke Warape and the late John Matialu.
The SDA mission in Habare expanded and spread the Gospel of Christ by establishing churches at Telapoanda in Hayapuga LLG, Agu Ipa in Hulia, Hangapo in Tebi, Lake Kopiago, Mt Bosavi, Hewa, Normad in Western province and Oksapmin in Sandaun province.
Ps Pawa said the SDA church in Hela which was part of the Western Highlands mission had more than 37,000 followers of which 7,000 were administered and baptised.
The SDA church in Hela now had two primary schools, one at Habare in Tari and the other at Kukupalu in Komo, 18 organised churches with 120 small outstations, three district directors, six retrenched pastors, 10 young pastors and two other trainee pastors undergoing theological studies at the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) in Port Moresby.
At the opening of the jubilee, local Hela MPs donated K100,000 to the jubilee organising committee.