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Hurricane-ravaged SDA Church Site Now Safe for Worship

POSTED: 12 May 2018

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Members of the largest Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church on St. Thomas will return to worship in the lower level of the church building on Sabbath, May 19, 2018. News of their return was shared while the NCC Administration led a Constituency Meeting on St. Thomas in April, 2018.

On September 6, 2017, the Philadelphia SDA Church’s upper level (worship sanctuary) suffered considerable damage from Category 5-Hurricane Irma.  Three days later, members had a meeting at the site to recount their hurricane experiences and to receive encouragement from church leaders.   Since then, joint worship services have been held at the Shiloh SDA Church. Many members are excited about the relationship forged between the two congregations. “We are happy about what has happened since,” commented Sister Barbara Guishard, an active member of the displaced congregation, who continues to participate in the church services.

When asked about the working relationship, Pastor Jerry Languedoc indicated that he is happy to share ministry with Pastor Glendon Cross: “Pastor Cross has been given a key to the church and we share, equally, the services to allow the participation of all. Both church choirs merge to fill the sanctuary with praise on Sabbath and the uniform groups share ministry on Sabbaths.” Pastor Glendon Cross responded, “The worship services have been inspiring. Pastor Jerry Languedoc and [the Shiloh] congregation have been very accommodating and we have worked out a relationship that has offered well for the church and ministry.” 

“It’s quite a model for ministry that has been going on,” commented Pastor Desmond James President of the North Caribbean Conference (NCC). “The members have bonded together and the ministry is rich and services great. Nonetheless, because the members have different needs, it is important that they provide ministry to the membership.” The NCC Administrators are committed to assisting with re-settling a congregation with more than 1,400 members on the church’s record. “We will do what we can to assist and make it comfortable for the members,” commented President James. “I am looking at accepting the invitation to speak at the worship service on the 19th. My schedule is tight but I feel the pain and I want the members to know that we are there with them.”

Leaders are cognizant of the needs to be met. As he addressed the constituency, Pastor Cross commented, “It's going to be an adjustment and bear with us. There are still several hurdles for the church to overcome. But by the grace of God, we will continue to deliver ministry to God’s people.” While the majority settled at Shiloh, some members have been attending services at other congregations on the island: “They are scattered,” admitted the First Elder, Gordon Williams. “We want to bring them back together so we can account and provide ministry for them.” 

Members and teams of volunteers have been instrumental in rendering the site safe for worship. One of these teams included more than 50 volunteers from the flagship University of the SDA Church, Andrews University. This group took one day from a Caribbean cruise mission trip to clear site-debris.

The brotherly love and care which members have for the community of St. Thomas have continued through ministry offered by various organized groups, including the Eager Beavers, Adventurers, Pathfinders, Adventist Youth, Prison Ministries and Community Services. Despite the devastation, the members desire to shine the light of Christ brightly and share “Philadelphia - Brotherly Love” with everyone they encounter. 

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