16 February 2019 | Today Pioneer Memorial Church celebrated the 60th anniversary of its first occupancy on Valentine’s Day Sabbath in 1959. “I have no other central theme than ‘Jesus,'” Pastor J. L. Tucker began the first sermon in the new facility, reported the student newspaper at the time.

The One Project would redeem this theme more than 50 years later, but there was no hesitancy for Tucker at the time. He proclaimed, “It shall ring from the nave, the balcony, the classrooms of this church.” He went on to offer, “With gladness we welcome our visitors and members to this first service in our new church home. It is to be ‘An House of Prayer for All People!’” This phrase is carved in relief over the main entrance.

A member who attended that first Sabbath service in 1959 told Adventist Today he recalls the sense that ‘An House of Prayer for All People’ was an enlargement of the congregation’s self-awareness brought about by the new building. This vision has endured and was again confirmed by the congregation and guests with a Litany of Dedication read by Pastor Dwight K. Nelson and the congregation led by Karen Oswald Nelson, the pastor’s wife.

“Almighty God, we give you thanks for the work you have done through Christ in this place.
We thank you for adopting us into your Family as your sons and daughters.
You have sent your Holy Spirit to heal and comfort our hurts, our sorrows, our infirmities, and our losses.
You have listened to our confessions and forgiven our sins.
Lord, thank you for drawing us as a congregation to become part of your global Church.
Thank you for our pioneers and founders, who obediently listened to your voice to raise up both our church and our congregation for your sacred purposes.
Help us to teach our young your Word and your ways, so they will know who you are and whom you call them to be.
Inspire us with a vision for your glory to be a House of Prayer for all people, and use that vision to direct the path of this congregation.
Continue to empower us with your Spirit that we might connect, grow, serve and go with the gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to all people . . .
In our families, in our community, and to the ends of the earth.
Help us to witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ until people of every nation, tribe, tongue and people worship your holy name.
May all glory and honor be yours, in and through your church, and in Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen!” (Written by Eric Lashbrook, adapted.)

The building was opened at a cost of $460,000 in 1959, which in today’s accounting is over $4 million. Beginning later this spring, the congregation plans to renovate the facility, including much needed reroofing, replacing the pews to accommodate wheelchairs in the aisles, and providing acoustical upgrades to improve speech clarity from the public address system. The budget for refurbishment is $2 million.

The photo taken during the 60th anniversary Sabbath services at Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University shows Pastor Rodlie Ortiz baptizing Harry Randrianaina.

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