Tuesday, October 01, 2019

St John's Lutheran Church Goroka celebrates 50 years


St John’s Lutheran Church in West Goroka, one of the pioneer urban churches in Papua New Guinea, celebrated its 50th anniversary in style on Sunday.
The church had three days of celebrations starting from Friday until Sunday, when it had its 50th anniversary service, which was attended by pioneer pastor Rev Brian Schwarz of Australia and his two sons Nick and Ben, as well as another former Australian pastor Murray Thomas and wife Edith.

Pioneer Pastor Brian Schwarz (centre) with sons Nick and Ben.

Former Pastor Murray Thomas and wife Edith catching up with old friends.

The celebrations included a one-day seminar on Friday, cultural show on Saturday and 50th anniversary service on Sunday.

Dancers from the Siassi Islands of Morobe performing on Sunday.

Goroka MP Henry Ame unveiled the 50th anniversary plaque on Sunday in front of a fullhouse crowd including former congregation members from around the country.

Goroka MP Henry Ame unveils the 50th anniversary plaque at St John’s on Sunday.

A fullhouse crowd at St John’s on Sunday.

“It really was a joyful occasion,” said Schwarz, who came to Goroka in 1969 as a 23-year-old fresh out of seminary and left the country in 1985.
“Today was a wonderful service.
“It was the best service I’ve ever been to at St John’s, better than any of the ones I’ve conducted.
“It was a lovely time, everyone welcomed me and I was very honoured, I’m very thankful to God.”
Schwartz said under the leadership of current pastor, Grahamme Baital of Siassi in Morobe, “St John’s might be able to play and important role in furthering ministry in urban centres, take a leading role to help train pastors, and other leaders in working more effectively in urban centres”.
Murray, who was at St John’s from 1993-2003, said it was heartening to see the church still continuing its work in Goroka.
“It was great to come back and catch up with people we knew as friends, and to see that the church is still going,” he said.
“We have many faithful pastors, and many faithful church members, who are following God’s way and growing.

With guests outside St John's after the unveiling of the 50th Anniversary plaque.From left are Finkewe Zurenuoc, Nick Schwarz, Pastor Grahamme Baital, Ricky Mitio, former Governor Peti Lafanama, former Pastor Murray Thomas, Goroka MP Henry Ame, founding Pastor Brian Schwarz, Church elder, Church elder, Chairman Himony Lapiso and me.

“It was good to see all the people here, the energy in getting all the celebrations and preparations.”

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