The story of our church is one that stretches back nearly 100 years!
In 1926, a Seventh-day Adventist couple, Mr & Mrs Vic Bernoth arrived in the Southport area. At this time the coast was serviced by a rail line that was built in 1889. A road followed in the 1920s which was very basic, with ferries that would cross rivers on the way and boats were used to get over the Nerang River to be able to access the beach (until the Jubilee Bridge was built.)
Around 1933, an SDA lady by the name of Mrs Shearer settled in the Southport area as well and started meeting regularly with the Bernoths for worship. The first Sabbath School meeting was in her home near the old Sundale Shopping Centre. The group soon expanded and would rent halls around Southport for worship.
After WWII, this group of believers began making plans to erect a church.
August 1950 saw the church group officially formed with some 25 members. The following year 20 members were added. (Norma Kolkka was one of the original members and is still active in the church today)
At the end of 1950 the church members began the erection of the first church building. This church was located at Nerang St, Southport, near Southport Hospital.
A few months later the church building opened officially. Pr Knight was the first ordained pastor to minister to the church. This church came about by hard work and the sacrifices of the local members, with £280 being given by the General Conference and £150 from the local Conference. This first building served the Church for 25 years, with the membership growing during this time.
In 1972, the hospital needed to expand, so the Church was notified their property would be resumed to make way for hospital expansion. The following year, a new property was purchased in High Street Southport, just a little more than a kilometre away. But it wasn’t until 1975 that the congregation of 75 met for worship in the Church for the first time.
The building in High Street served the church for the next 25 years. In this time, the Gold Coast (and Southport itself) had seen massive development and increase in population. There was major road upgrades past the front of the church. The members saw the need for expansion as well – of seating and parking.
During this time, two new companies formed from the Southport Church: one became the Reedy Creek Church and the other became Coast Life Church.
The remaining church members had their last worship service in the High St church in June 2001. For the next 8 years the Church met in the Uniting Church of The Good Shepherd at Ashmore. The members discovered that finding a new location for a church would not be as easy as it had been in the past. The Southport area was very heavily developed, and the search for an appropriate sized piece of land meant they had to look farther and farther away from Southport.
When the site at Nerang was found and considered, there were a number of obstacles to overcome, such as finding the actual owners (there were 4 separate titles owned by different people) and then approaching them to see if they were willing to sell. In some instances that meant tracking down people living overseas.
The Southport church members had a vision for a building that would be large enough to carry the members into the next season of growth. They had a bold plan to build a church that could seat 500 people, and at that time, they were a church with an aging population of about 90 people. The 8 years gave necessary time to plan, save and work toward their goal.
After all of the planning, negotiating, building and furnishing was done, on 28 March 2009 the church members gathered for the first time in the new complex named the Life Development Centre – Gold Coast Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, 67 Warrener St Nerang QLD.
Having a lovely building is one thing. Finding people to come and enjoy it is another thing altogether! This next goal was one that has achieved through prayer. Our church’s prayer groups made a specific point of asking the Lord to send young people and families, as they knew well knew that without a younger church membership, there would not be much of a future for the new complex.
As at the time of writing this article near the end of 2018, the church’s membership is such that the building is near capacity and our leadership are looking to the future and asking the question, “Where to from here?” Every Sabbath, there can be anything from 90 to 150 young people (under the age of 18), with a membership of around 350, and a growing number of regular attendees.
We as a church feel that we are standing on the threshold of the next new, exciting phase of our journey and we anticipate being able to share God’s love in new and powerful ways on the Gold Coast.
Come be a part of it! 🙂