The final memories of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in Road Town, Tortola, comprised a grand musical concert hosted by the Family Life Department, on Sabbath, 2nd September, 2017. It was a celebratory occasion, which highlighted the talent that existed within the congregation at that time.
But then, on Wednesday, 6th September, 2017, category 5 Hurricane Irma poured out her wrath on the British Virgin Islands. Not only did the islands experience the devastating impact of the system, but our edifice also experienced significant and extensive damage, thereby making it inoperable.
Since that ordeal, the Road Town congregation has not had its own permanent place of worship, and that has been just under four years. Albeit the church meets at the BVI SDA School Auditorium for service, that venue does not provide the same environment that the congregation experienced at its prior sanctuary.
Nevertheless, on Sunday, 6th June, 2021, we held our Church Groundbreaking Ceremony – a ceremony which signified a new start, a way forward, progress, determination, drive, readiness, and trust in God. This ceremony was centered around the theme, “A Renewed Vision: Rebuilding His Sanctuary”.
With much exuberance and timeliness, the Groundbreaking Ceremony commenced with Elder Wade Tobin as the Chairperson, and Kené Bolondia professionally performing the Territorial Song, “Oh Beautiful Virgin Islands”. The event was attended by several government officials, who have had and continue to have affiliation with the Road Town Church in one way or another.
Following the welcome, which was extended by Pastor Sylvester Williams, BVI District 1 of Seventh-day Adventists, remarks were given by these officials. Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, former Premier of the Virgin Islands, educated the audience briefly on the history of the church, and made mention of his younger years, when he and his brothers attended the Road Town Church with their parents. It is noteworthy to mention that his oldest brother, Joshua J. Smith Jr., who was affectionately known as “Elder Joey” or “Bro. Joey”, served as the First Elder and Organist of this church for many years. Dr. Smith also indicated that he had received a Building Fund pledge card and will definitely ‘do what he has to do’.
Due to the location of the Road Town Church edifice, the Fourth District Representative and Member of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Honourable Mark Vanterpool, was also invited to give brief remarks. He, too, educated the audience about his history with the church through his benevolence. He never failed to contribute towards the Community Services Outreach Campaign, through his provision of food items and discounts. Hon. Vanterpool also indicated that he will definitely contribute to the Church Building Fund.
Invitations were sent to all Members of the House of Assembly, and it was indeed a pleasure to have the Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities, Honourable Kye Rymer, accept the invitation; though not on the programme, he was also invited to give brief remarks. He congratulated the Church on its milestone and offered encouragement to see it through to its completion.
The Acting Premier and Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, who also has responsibility for Ecclesiastical Affairs, Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, also educated the audience on his history with the Church. He made mention of attending services on several occasions with one of his brothers who was a member of the Adventist Church. He further congratulated the Church on its standard of ensuring that attention is paid to all youth through the establishment of clubs such as the Pathfinders’ Club. Honourable Wheatley assured us that, that through his Ministry, he will contribute towards our Church Building Fund.
The Planning Committee, which comprised Sis. Jillian Douglas-Phillip (Chair), Sis. Yvette Samuels, Sis. Jerrilyn King, Sis. Veda Austrie, and Pastor Sylvester Williams (ex-officio member), ensured that, for the programme, there was a wide cross-section of the membership involved in the event. Musical selections were rendered by the Pathfinders’ Choir, Vision Anew (duet), Amanda Penn (one of our blooming artists) and Kyle Moses, our violinist.
The highlights of the Ceremony were the presentation of the church history and the actual groundbreaking. One of our senior members, Sis. Myrle E. Boyce eloquently and humorously presented the church history,
which comprised a list of all the pastors who served the Road Town Church and the years they served. During this aspect of the programme, a slide show allowed the audience to view photos of most of those who served. The actual groundbreaking and the unveiling of the concept signified A New Start!
Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 state, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” It is with this hope that the Pastor and members of the SDA Church in Road Town open this new chapter of the reconstruction of God’s sanctuary, with unity, progressiveness, positivity, faith in God, powerful prayer and a burning desire to succeed. To God be the glory!