Church leaders and government officials in Tortola broke ground during a recent ceremony for the construction of a new US $1.6 million complex to house the Carrot Bay Seventh-day Church which had been destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Premier of the British Virgin Islands The Honorable Andrew Fahie stood next to church officials for the new state-of-the-art building.
Premier Fahie lauded the church for its commitment to the social development of the island as he reflected on the fond memories of attending Vacation Bible School when he was young. “It was since I was seven years old that I had heard of plans to build a new church,” he said. “I want to say from the top of my heart, this [project] has my full support. Whatever I can do, whatever we can do, we are going to do it.”
It’s not just about a new building, Premier Fahie said. “This is about the community coming together for a cause of God. This will not only bring the people together for church but it will bring us together, even tighter, as a community and as children of God.”
Originally built on land donated by the Sarah Donovan family in 1954, the Carrot Bay Church became unsafe for worship after the hurricane. Members were forced to worship in the nearby youth center. The damaged church building was demolished in 2019 to make way for the new building.
Pastor Desmond James, president of the church in the North Caribbean Conference, commended the church’s leader, Pastor Leriano Webster, and the members for moving to have the church planted in the community.
“This is a celebrative moment for the church. Undaunted by the huge challenge, you are a sacrificial people, tenacious and untiring in your efforts to pursue the mission for God’s people,” said James. He encouraged the members to be a lighthouse in the community and to embrace every opportunity to serve God and grow. “I know you are a closely knit church and we expect great things from you.”
The new church building, which will be the largest Seventh-day Adventist church on Tortola when it’s completed, will be made from concrete and steel for resistance to hurricanes, use renewable energy for lighting and feature a fellowship hall and additional space for community outreach programs and activities, church leaders said. The sanctuary will accommodate more than 350.In addition to being a worship center with a baptistery, the future church will serve the community and fulfill the three strategic guidelines to serve, disciple and evangelize. There will also be areas to provide services for children and youth.
“My blessing is to see the hand of God as we move forward,” said Pastor Webster. “He [God] opened new paths that we did not see, in a village where the circumstances were hard and we are happy to erect this new church to His glory.” The main objective of the project, said Webster, is to create a facility that will provide a holistic worship environment and enable the church to provide a range of services to enhance the quality of life for members and the community at large, he explained.
“This is a monumental occasion to which we have come,” said Pastor Sylvester Williams, coordinator of the Adventist work in the British Virgin Islands, during the breaking ground ceremony. “This project has come at a most appropriate time to fill the need for a place of worship for the people of God in this community.”
The North Caribbean Conference registered support for the project by giving an initial financial contribution toward the construction of the complex. Sanida McKenzie, treasurer of the conference, said, “Although hurricanes Irma and Maria shook the foundations of the church, the members fought difficult challenges together.”Despite the devastation, said Pastor Wilmoth James, executive secretary for the church in North Caribbean, “Carrot Bay continues to play its part in fulfilling the Mission of the Lord on Tortola.”