Story by Phillip E.L. Castell
Photos contributed by Pastor Holland Thompson
Mention the words 'Hurricane Sandy' anywhere in St. Thomas and bad memories of property damage and devastation to agriculture will emerge. On February 10, 2013 however, members of the Needham Pen SDA Church in St. Thomas , gathered at a rededication service to give God thanks for their new house of worship that was rebuilt after sections of the church was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy on October 24, 2012.
"Out of evil comes good and today we are here to praise the Lord together with all of you ," said Holland Thompson, pastor of the Needham Pen SDA church, as he addressed church and community members in a jam packed newly erected place of worship that was rebuilt at a cost of just over J$1.2 million.
"The Needham Pen church structure from beginning was not a pleasant site to behold," said Pastor Thompson ," but then Hurricane Sandy came and did damage . As a result of this, worshipping in the church became uncomfortable especially when it rained, as there was extensive leaks in the roof from the loss of zincs, " Thompson said.
Words of thanksgiving and praise was on the lips of everyone as the new house of worship looked nothing like what obtained prior to the Hurricane. The old dilapidated wooden structure which served as church for many yeas was totally replaced.
Elder Leslie Williams, first Elder of the Needham Pen SDA church was filled with gratitude to God for what He had done for them."We thank God for the Hurricane Sandy , for the church members and for the East Jamaica Conference who assisted us with J$300,000.00 towards the rebuilding," Williams said.
"Our church was in a terrible condition before the hurricane. A lot of people refused to come there because of how it looked, but now the church is brand new. Apart from the foundation, everything was knocked down and rebuilt from the ground up. We are grateful to the members of the Morant Bay and Prospect SDA churches who assisted us with voluntary work during the rebuilding process as well, " Elder Williams said.
Pastor Adrian Cotterell, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Jamaica Conference, was the speaker for the rededication service. He thanked the pastor, elders and members of the church for the work they had put in to renovate the church structure.
"It is my joy and privilege to stand here at this moment. This is a beautiful place, and you will agree with me that the Needham Pen Sanctuary is looking good, " Cotterell said to a chorus of "amen" giving affirmation from the congregation that they were pleased with their new place of worship.
"I would also like to say special thanks to all those individuals who would have served here in Needham Pen over these many years. You have been like a little lighthouse in this community, and many individuals today are rejoicing in full and free salvation because of your work and ministry," Cotterell said.
Present at the rededication service were leaders and members of the Morant Bay, Seaforth, Wilmington and Whitehorses SDA Church in St. Thomas. There were also representatives of other non SDA Churches in the community as well.
Elder Waldon Wright, Treasurer of East Jamaica Conference was also present and did the prayer of rededication for the new house of worship.