On Sunday June 2, 2019, nearly 21 months after the original church building was destroyed by a hurricane, the reconstructed Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church opened its doors to members and friends, on the island of St. Maarten.
More than 300 members were seated in the newly refurbished church building for the rededication service, which was led by Pastor Desmond James, the President of the North Caribbean Conference. “We all know what happened here two years ago and rebuilding a church is like rebuilding a nation,” said Pastor Desmond James. “What’s more, for us it means that the Church of God is taking a new step to continue the mission we have here on this island. We want to take this opportunity to thank the pastor and all volunteers for the work they have done. We want the church to represent the best we can give to God. It’s something to be proud off. Well done!”
The President of the Caribbean Union Conference, Dr. Kern Tobias, shared this significant moment with members and delivered the sermon: “This rededication brings glory and honour to God for His goodness to us all. It is another occasion for praising Gods’ name.” Using 1 Chronicles 9: 10-14 as the text for exposition, Dr. Tobias encouraged the members to let the edifice bring praise to God, because what they accomplished came through Him.
On September 4, 2017, infamous Category 5-Hurricane Irma caused such widespread destruction on St. Maarten, many buildings suffered structural damage. As members sifted through the rubble of what was once their church, they struggled with a sense of hopelessness.
Immediately after the hurricane, members were first housed at the Philipsburg SDA Church. Pastor Kumal Smith, who leads the Ephesus SDA Church, commented, “We worshipped at Philipsburg SDA Church for three months. They received us with open arms and we enjoyed the joint fellowship. But, there is no place like home so we decided to pitch the tent. It was where we had started and so we were familiar with the challenges but we wanted to be together as a church.” He further mused, “During the reconstruction phase, the church received lots of volunteer help. The funny thing with money is that it seems a lot until you start to spend it. We are thankful to the members who used their gifts and talents freely for the rebuilding of the sanctuary. Although they often cried out about feeling tired, they did not relax their efforts. I commend them highly.” He shared that individuals, who were paid for their daily labors, volunteered their time late into the nights and on weekends. The culinary experts encouraged the laborers with nutritious and delicious meals.
The Church’s First Elder, Shanka Serrant, and his team painstakingly guided the reconstruction process. And, although the project experienced setbacks, the church can now celebrate the rededication of its sanctuary.
The Ephesus SDA Church originated from the “MARANATHA CRUSADE” held by the Evangelist Roosevelt Daniels in January, 1993. The church was dedicated on October 28, 2001, by Pastor John Josiah, a former president of the North Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
“It’s been a blessing for me to see the Ephesus Church completed,” said Dr. Henry Peters, a former pastor of the congregation during its original construction. “It’s just amazing to see the commitment of the members. It’s very meaningful to see what a legacy they are leaving for the next generation.”