Boroko United Church sets a building plan in ‘Covid times’
By ALPHONSE BARIASI
IT has been 60 years so the Boroko United Church building, tucked unassumingly in its 5-Mile neighbourhood, is a weathered shadow of its former glamorous self.
To be exact, last Thursday, July 22 was the diamond jubilee of the Boroko United Church’s founding and opening under pioneer Australian minister, Rev Paul Parkin.
The celebrations proper were held two days later on Saturday when the congregation got together in joyous fashion to remember the work of the pioneers and more importantly, to fire up their faith in looking to the future. That future entails both saving souls and keeping them, and also pulling down and rebuilding.
They need faith in good measure, as Rev Raka Aiga, superintendent minister of the North Port Moresby Circuit of the United Church of PNG, said.
They need to pull down the old building whose foundations have been deemed weak by a structural engineer already.
“These are Covid times and the economic conditions are tough. Unemployment is high and even putting food on the table is hard. And here comes this project! What is God’s message to us?” Rev Aiga said.
No better time
But there is no better time than now to plan to build, he told the believiers who turned up in their fellowship groups to celebrate the diamond jubilee, and unveil an ambitious building plan for a 500-seat church building and a multi-purpose hall.
The technical team spearheading the project is led by Numa Gia and comprises Geno Pala (architect), Frank Amini (electrical engineer), Manis Manoka (surveyor), Jeremiah Pala (geologist), Wari Puana (builder), and Voro Alu (structural engineer).
The hall will go up first to cater for church gatherings and Sunday services while the church building will take a while longer to complete. The new church plans have been drawn up by the technical team which comprises congregation members, a plus in itself. The church has decided to retain the general layout and design of the current building but the new one will necessarily be a lot larger to cater for a congregation that has grown over the years and continues to do so.
Rev Aiga was invited to unveil the building plans in the company of church leadership, current minister Rev Seik and Marama Avie Pitoi and a former retired minister Rev Jino Pala (2014-19).
The Boroko United Church was established by the expatriate London Missionary Society congregation, who broke away from the Ela Beach Protestant Church. Rev Paul Parkin was the foundation minister. It was perhaps the only church that had a tennis court too! The tennis court is where the multi-purpose hall will go up.
“The news to rebuild should make people dance,” Rev Aiga told the congregation in a devotion to kick start the day of celebrations
Fundraising in fact start on the day with cash donations and pledges amounting to K18,000 towards a project that would cost somewhere over K1 million.
“The Israelites returned from captibity to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem after 70 years. Boroko United Church, after 60 years, the time is right (to rebuild)!
“The glamour, splendor and beauty of the old house is gone; don’t waste time. This is the generation God has chosen to rebuild the church. You will be proud God chose you to rebuild.
A step of faith
“Take a step of faith and God will step in. The latter house will be a lot more glamorous than the old.
“I hope during (current minister) Seik Pitoi’s time the church will be rebuilt.
“I’m a proud super minister. In this Covid generation God is doing something powerful. You must be able to manage blessings that will come,” he said.
“We will not wait for any government assistance. It is your giving that will make the project a reality.
He iterated the words of former United Church Moderator Edea Kidu: “The United Church’s bank is the pockets of its people.”
It was a day of celebration. And hope for the church’s future, as usual, was epitomised by the children and youth who actively participated in song and dance by the fellowship groups of Hebamo, Hula, Marshall Lagoon, Cape Rodney.
Chairman of the jubilee anniversary committee Warren Auka earlier congratulated the congregation for carrying on the work started by the pioneers from the United Church of Australia.
It was a celebration of contrasting beats of regae, swaying peroveta (prophet) hymns, string band and some hip-hop.
If there was any doubt that the young people were falling away and out or churches, the Boroko United Church has hope still, if the celebrations of the weekend were any indication.
Auka likened the building project to a child.
“It takes a whole village to raise a child. That child was conceived today. I know you will do it,” Auka said.
Chairman of the Boroko United Church Deacon Vivogo Samoa also urged the congregation to work in unity and give freely even in the present difficult times to realise their dream.
From a Protestant church
As the minister Rev Seik Pitoi reported in the Weekender article last Thursday, Boroko United Church grew out of the Ela Protestant Church, a non-denominational church built in 1890 for the use of non-Roman Catholic Christians run under the umbrella of the LMS.
“In 1955, the Ela Protestant congregation decided to make provision for the appointment of a full time minister. At a special meeting in 1958, the United Church board in Australia recognised the need for a church in the growing suburb of Boroko. The Rev Paul Parkin was appointed as the first full time minister. Paul was a young congregational graduate of Melbourne and New England College, London.
“He arrived in 1958, accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth and three children, Helen, Bronwyn and Jamie.
“After Parkin, a few more expatriate missionaries served the church. The last expatriate minister was Rev Sione Kami of the Kingdom of Tonga who had transferred from the Highlands region where he had served as bishop. Boroko ran two church services, one in Motu, followed by the other in English.
“Rev Sione served the longest time, a period of 14 years. Under his stewardship, the church grew immensely, necessitating a move to their new location where the church which bears his name now stands (the Rev Sione Kami Memorial Church – RSKMC).
“When the English congregation moved to RSKMC, the Boroko Motu congregation became a separate entity with their own minister.”