On Sabbath, 21 January 2023, a special ceremony to welcome the Southern Illawarra Church from the South New South Wales Conference into the Greater Sydney Conference (GSC) was held at the Wollongong Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Members of the Southern Illawarra Church were met by officers of the Greater Sydney and South NSW conferences, who attended along with the pastors of Wollongong and Southern Illawarra churches. Pr Cristian Copaceanu, President of South NSW Conference, presented a sermon about church mission before inviting Southern Illawarra Church members to the front of the sanctuary for a special introductory prayer. The day culminated in a combined lunch to celebrate the occasion.
The move is both practical and aspirational. “The southern boundary of the Greater Sydney Conference has moved south due to the growth of greater Illawarra District,” shares Cheonneth Strickland, Secretary of GSC. “The new boundary of our conference is the northern most point of Minnamurra Beach, which is past Shellharbour.”
The Illawarra District will now have four churches, adding one more house of worship to GSC, helping it and world church attain the goal of seeing the kingdom of God grow.
“It made sense from the missional perspective to attach Southern Illawarra church with Wollongong church so that it would provide better opportunity in terms of pastoral staffing to create a hub in Wollongong area,” shares Alban Matohiti, GSC President. “The main reason [for the redistricting] is to have a better way of sharing the faith and embracing the mission of the church.”
The conference has also invested in land nearby, and this move may allow for that land to be used for missional purposes, possibly with the construction of a new church, school or aged care facility.
“This handover represents the beginning of a new era for our church,” says Alan Blake, senior elder of the Southern Illawarra Church. “We look forward to working with the Wollongong and Corrimal churches in a cohesive and collaborative way in the coming years now that church activities and evangelistic efforts can be inclusive of all the Illawarra area from Shellharbour in the south to Helensburgh in the north.”
For more on our Illawarra Churches visit www.illawarraadventist.org.