The King's Island

12 Apr 2016
The King's Island

It was about two years ago that faithful Adventist patriarch, Laurie Morgan, passed to his rest just prior to his 95th birthday. That left a young man, Freddy, as the only King Island (Tasmania) resident regularly attending our monthly Adventist worship services.

I had begun visiting King Island in June 2009 and quickly became aware that we had a beautiful Adventist church near the centre of the main town, Currie. Twice on Sabbath mornings I had turned up wishing to participate in fellowship and worship. 

However, I was soon to learn that not long before the death of Laurie’s wife Nora, this aged but very faithful couple had stopped opening up the church each week. Any infrequent get-togethers were held at Laurie’s home.

It was against this backdrop that I met up with Barry Whelan, who was conducting Laurie’s funeral. Back in the early 1980s, Barry was the resident Adventist minister on King Island for two and-a-half years. He organised the building of the church with help from the locals and he was the dynamo, under God, responsible for building up the church membership to around 40. 

Barry and I, a pastor and retired educator, respectively, shared the burden we felt for the King Island church and its people and our keen determination to do something about rescuing the church from oblivion. We agreed that church services had to happen every week—not just once or twice a month—and that they definitely needed to happen in the church building.

So early in 2014 I sought out sponsorships and we raised enough money for Barry and I to fly over to the island on a weekly basis for two months. We agreed to review our involvement after this trial period. 

Of course, once we started there was no way that God was going to allow us to stop. Financially, the Lord has continued to provide through donations from family and a few friends, plus support from the Leongatha and Yarra Valley Adventist churches in Victoria. Barry and I also put in. And the Tasmanian Conference also helps with one return airfare each month.

Our first service in the re-opened church was held during Easter 2014. We started with one but we now have 22 (including Barry and me) on our informal roll. It’s amazing what can happen—even in a place where the population is just 1500—when people start talking and sharing and when the wonder of God’s great love is promoted. Only nine of these 22 are formal Adventist members and much of the growth has come about when non-members have spread the word amongst their friends.

Boosting our numbers and offering the potential of strong local leadership has been the recent arrival of a family of four. This family farmed pecan nuts in rural South Africa and, looking to escape the country’s political instability, bought a cattle property on King Island. The delightful thing is that they've said that they wouldn't have considered settling on King Island if there hadn't been an active Adventist church there.

Also pleasing is that eight of our 22 attendees are in the 15–35 age range. This augers well for the fellowship’s future; in contrast the other King Island churches have virtually no attendees in this younger age bracket.

Recently, we’ve had people asking us to commence Bible studies. It’s amazing to see how God has worked and is continuing to work. To God be the glory, great things He is doing—even on King Island!

Vivian Hill is a retired Adventist educator living in Melbourne, Victoria. He and Barry Whelan, a palliative care minister, alternate travelling to King Island to lead the worship service each Sabbath. Article originally published in Tasda


Vivian Hill