In the USVI, church building over 100 years old is refurbished and rededicated

12 Jan 2020 | City S.D.A Communication Team

The City Seventh-day Adventist Church is known as the mother church of Adventism in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands. Formerly known as the St. Thomas Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Advent Movement began in the year 1900 when Andrew Palmquist, a young self-supporting missionary, arrived on the shores of beautiful St. Thomas selling Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) publications. One year later, in 1901, Pastor Albert Haysmer of New York arrived in St. Thomas. After engaging in house-to-house visitation, he held an evangelistic tent meeting and eight people were baptized. With the acquisition of #55 Dronningens Gade in 1904, the present location of City Seventh-day Adventist Church, the first Seventh-day Adventist Church building was erected in 1905.  In 2003, the City Church family celebrated 102 years of Adventism in St. Thomas, in grand style, and will celebrate 120 years of Adventism in 2021.

Over the years, the City SDA Church family purchased the adjacent eastern and western properties and built a 3-story multipurpose center. The center provides a Pastor’s office, kitchen, Community Services room, Youth Ministries meeting spaces, and includes state-of-the-art bathrooms, etc. In addition, changes and improvements were made to both the interior and exterior of the Lord’s Sanctuary. In the earlier part of 2019, it became urgently necessary to upgrade the pews – these had been donated, used, from another church in Georgia in August of 2006. Although the membership appreciated this donation, the new pews were desperately needed because of safety concerns due to the poor condition of the existing ones as they were literally falling apart. Hence on Sunday, July 28, 2019, in a Business Meeting, the City SDA Church family unanimously decided to embark on purchasing new pews. After the membership unselfishly rose to the challenge and sacrificially financed the project which was over half of one hundred thousand dollars, the actual prep-work on the sanctuary began on Sunday, October 27, 2019. All able-bodied members and regular attendees showed up and got to work. The dilapidated pews, old equipment and furnishings were removed and placed in a dumpster; a temporary worship center was created on the first floor of the multi-purpose center.
With that undertaking, anonymous donors from within the church family stepped up to cover the expenses for re-tiling and re-painting the Sanctuary, re-carpeting the rostrum, upgrading the electrical wiring, rewiring the audio/visual system, upgrading light fixtures and deep cleaning the entire Sanctuary. Setbacks and obstacles arose along the way and threatened to throw the renovation off course but the members remained faithful; donations continued to pour in, and member-tradesmen continued the work by volunteering their services.

After about two months, on Sabbath, January 4, 2020, as many Seventh-day Adventist Churches worshipped in their respective locations with grateful hearts, there was much more gratitude and excitement for the City Seventh-day Adventist Church family’s return to the newly renovated Sanctuary.

Without fanfare, Pastor Glendon G. Cross led the congregation in praise, thanksgiving and the singing of hymn 341, ‘To God Be the Glory’. He then petitioned the throne of God in a Prayer of Dedication for the newly refurbished Sanctuary and its contents. He prayed, “We thank you that you placed it in our hearts to see the need to refurbish the Sanctuary. To do it in such a way, Lord, that it rightly represents the God of majesty that You are. We thank You that You made it possible in the time frame that we indicated. And we know Lord, that you have a great plan and a great purpose for each one of us as we worship you in this setting and our lives are touched and transformed and we go from here to represent you wherever it is that we are sent. While we are in this setting, we want to always honor you and glorify you by how we relate to this sanctuary. We pray that you will help us to recognize that each one of us has a part in keeping this place clean and in such a way that it always represents you. We are asking that in the event of natural disaster, such as tsunami, hurricanes or even earthquakes, that you will see it fit to place your hand of protection over this place that has been set aside for your worship. And that you will preserve all these items of furnishings in this place, sacred to your name that you will always be uplifted here. Put it in our minds Father, that we do not worship this place, but the God who dwells in our hearts and who agrees to meet with us at this sacred place of assembly. Yet, may we so continue to take care of these items, [in] this setting, that it will always reflect the dignity, the magnificence of the God we worship and you will be praised and worshipped by those who see us here worshipping; those who come to join us in worship; and this place will always be used for one purpose and one purpose only, that of lifting up and magnifying the name of God and providing a setting where you can be worshipped corporately. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

With grateful hearts, many members attested to God’s faithfulness. Sister Venetta Osborne, a long-time member, was pleased to be in the ‘new’ sanctuary on the first Sabbath of the New Year. She said, “It was great to be back in the main Sanctuary for the New Year. God has indeed been faithful.” Sister Joycelyn E. Roper, the granddaughter of Sister Viola A. Monsanto (one of the original members of the St. Thomas SDA Church) shared wisdom from her grandmother, “She would say that a sin as small as a mustard seed would keep [you] out of the Kingdom of God. So make sure you are ready to meet Him when He comes.” She felt overjoyed in the newly enhanced Sanctuary.
In unison, the City Seventh-day Adventist Church family echoes praises to the Lord for providing its church family with the financial resources, a sacrificial spirit, anonymous donors, tradesmen amongst the membership and the funds from the City Seventh-day Adventist Church. It remains committed, dedicated and will continue to meet its financial pledges to provide additional renovations, which include new furnishings for Youth Ministries and an upgrade/ enhancement to its grounds and exterior. Overall, this commitment will ensure that all worship experiences bring glory and honor to God, the Most High, and that the worship location will be a beacon of light to all who see the City Seventh-day Adventist Church. To God Be The Glory!