On Saturday 30 July, after many years of planning, saving and waiting, the brand new Swansea Seventh-day Adventist church was finally officially opened. Some two hundred people attended the event including representatives from the council, leaders of other churches, officers of the Welsh Mission and BUC, local members, Adventist well-wishers from all over the UK, and significantly, about fifty visitors from the surrounding community.
“It has always been our intention to be a community church,” said Pastor Jovan Adamović, who, together with local member Dr Ian Cameron, has carefully steered the project from its earliest design phase. Over the years the Swansea members have been closely involved with the local community, running healthy eating clubs, providing support for refugees, supplying “street pastors” and visiting prisoners. The importance of this kind of community work was stressed by local councillor Mike Day who, speaking during the morning service, also delivered a personal message from the Lord Mayor of the City and County of Swansea, Councillor David Hopkins.
Principal architect, Richard Liddell, whose practice specialises in church design, described the different elements which are important in designing a “community friendly” church. “You need to be seen by the community,” he said, “which is why there is so much glass in this building. You want people who are passing by on the street to look in and be interested in what is going on.” Even as he spoke, the occupants of cars queuing at the traffic lights on Gower Road could be seen turning their heads, gazing in surprise at the once empty but now crowded building.
Newly appointed Welsh Mission President Pastor Emanuel Bran, whose wife Camelia sang during the service, was impressed as he saw the building for the first time. “Many of our churches could learn from what has been done here,” he said.
Outgoing Welsh Mission President, now BUC Executive Secretary Pastor John Surridge gave the morning sermon and compared the history and use of the Old Testament temple with churches today. Pointing out that the temple failed when it ceased to represent and serve the community he challenged the Swansea members to keep their church focused on those living in the Sketty area. As a good number of these people were present he also addressed them. “Hold us to account,” he said. “If we are failing to serve you as a community, don’t be afraid to tell us.”
The afternoon programme was devoted to personal testimonies. Pastor Jeremy Tremeer, who began his ministry in the Swansea district, presented a brief history of the church which had been prepared by former Welsh Mission President Dr Brian Phillips. Erica Cameron (née Rees) told of how she had been brought up, baptised and married in the church, and Alvin and Anthea Fielding showed a picture from their own wedding in the old building. Mrs Margaret Howells, church clerk, former children’s Sabbath School teacher and matriarch, told stories from her recollections of the church in days gone by, including when it was used to host the “Swansea Business College” run by Frank Powell. Although not a Seventh-day Adventist at the time, Margaret enrolled in the college as an early teenager in 1945.
Thanks to legacies left many years ago by two faithful members, Gertrude Hughes and Morfydd Jones, the new Swansea church is able to embark on its new mission free of debt. We are grateful for the faithfulness of members past and present and look forward to God’s continued blessings on the Swansea church in the future.