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Newlife Robina continues Solomon partnership

Staff of the Assembly of the United Church in Solomon Islands re-enact meeting the first western missionary to visit the Solomon Islands. Photo by Bruce Mullan
“OVERWHELMED BY hospitality,” was how Newlife Robina Uniting Church Minister Rev Stuart Cameron described the visit by seven Australian church members to the Western Province.

“For six of us this was our first visit to the Solomon Islands, but it certainly will not be our last,” said Mr Cameron who is also Chair of the Uniting International Mission Reference Committee.

Asked why the group had gone to the Solomon Islands, Mr Cameron said, “Because we believe God called us to be there.”

The participants saw the visit as a continuation of a 105 year partnership between the original Methodist Churches and the now United Church in Solomon Islands (UCSI) and the Uniting Church in Australia.

The Newlife Robina group met with UCSI congregations in Roviana and Gizo and visited Helena Goldie Hospital, Goldie College and Tabaka Bay Rural Training Centre.

Rev Cameron said Newlife Robina had a strong commitment to youth and children’s ministry and was keen to make that commitment a cornerstone of the congregation’s partnership with the UCSI.

“We see that your churches are filled with children and we pray that your young people will come to a deep faith in Jesus and a strong relationship with the United Church,” Rev Cameron told the UCSI Assembly staff.

Chairperson of the Newlife Robina Congregation and businessman Mr Doug Mayes told the Assembly staff that his church would like to support the Assembly in developing sustainable business projects that would ensure ongoing funding for the UCSI.

“Whatever we do will provide ongoing employment for Solomon Islands young people and support the development of infrastructure in the Western Province,” Mr Mayes said.

“We are particularly concerned about the provision of adequate water supplies for homes and communities.”

Mr Mayes said whatever projects were undertaken in conjunction with the UCSI, he wanted to see Australians and Solomon Island Christians working alongside each other in partnership.

Rev Cameron expressed the wishes of the group to see ongoing exchanges of people between the UCSI and the Newlife Robina Congregation.

“We particularly want some of your young people to visit with us and some of our young people to visit here,” he said.

“It is through such exchanges that friendship and trust develops and faith is strengthened.”

Mr Cameron said a highlight of the visit was a trip to Nusa Zonga Island where members of the Assembly staff and Kokeqolo Congregation, dressed in traditional costume, re-enacted the meeting between Solomon Islanders and the first Australian missionary to the Western Province, Rev John Francis Goldie in 1902.

“We were very surprised to be greeted by what seemed to be fierce warriors with axes and shields.

“It was a great relief to see that one of the warriors looked like UCSI Mission Support Program Secretary Mr John Sasabule and that the axes were made only of wood,” Mr Cameron said.

Photo : Staff of the Assembly of the United Church in Solomon Islands re-enact meeting the first western missionary to visit the Solomon Islands. Photo by Bruce Mullan