There is nothing sweeter or more pleasing to God when believers gather together to worship. And in October, sounds of praise and worship coming from Nanded, Maharashtra were louder and happier. The reason – a new church was being dedicated on Thanksgiving Day.
On the banks of the Godavari River lies Nanded, one of the oldest and most populous cities in Maharashtra. The city holds great religious significance to many and has pilgrims from all over visiting the Godavari to perform various rituals. On 1 October 2017, NAC members from neighbouring towns and cities came to Nanded for a different reason. They wanted to be part of Thanksgiving Day and the dedication of their new church building.
An Exciting Milestone
On the eve of the new church building’s dedication, the youth members came excitedly to the church to get it ready for the grand opening. They gave the church a good cleaning after which they blew balloons and hung them along with fancy lights.
Even though the youth were up late decorating the church, they brought the same excitement and enthusiasm on Sunday morning to church. Decorations continued – this time the sole focus was the altar. The final decoration was a red ribbon across the entrance door waiting for the church to be officially opened by Apostle (i.R.) Suryawanshi.
Once Apostle (i.R.) Suryawanshi cut the ribbon, the members excitedly entered the building and settled in their places. Soon the church was filled with rich sounds of praise and worship. Apostle Pravin Gajbhiv conducted the Divine Service. He based his message on Romans 11:36, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” Apostle Pravin explained about God and His creation, and how everything in our lives had come from God and His creation. As children of God, he went on, it was important to always have a heart full of gratitude towards Him for everything He had given and continued to give them.
Apostle Pravin likened the new church to a new house. Just like a new house needs new furniture, in a church the members need to bring in furniture in the form of faith and of peace. Like mentioned by Jesus in Luke 11:24-26, they needed to be alert and on guard against unclean spirits.
A Special Walk Down Memory Lane
After the Divine Service, some members gave a presentation about the history of the congregation in that area. It had been started by Evangelist E.N. Suryawanshi under the leadership and guidance of Apostle Benji Bower (one of the first six Apostles of India). The first church they had met in was in a building called Hingoli Gate – but after experiencing many issues, the church kept on shifting and for many years the service was held in Gandhi Nagar.
Apostle (i.R.) Suryawanshi (who retired in 2014) shared that in 1989 they came to Nanded to find a location for a church. As time went by, this became an extremely difficult endeavour. When they finally found and bought the land, construction proved to be a challenge as various government permissions were required. The late Bishop Sanjay Gorde worked hard to get these permissions. Now after many years everything has fallen into place.
The Significance of Thanksgiving Day
For the NAC members in Nanded, every minute of the service was special. After so many years of waiting and moving from building to building they finally had a place to call their own. And to their delight it was not any ordinary or plain structure, but a very contemporary and elegant looking building.
People had come to church from so many locations to celebrate Thanksgiving Day and were happy that they could be part of the dedication of a church, a sign to show that God’s work will always continue.
Older members remembered their 22-year-old journey when New Apostolic Church had first made their presence known in Nanded. It was truly a day and celebration for all who attended.
Words: Nitin Raje /BBMH
Images: Ankush Sonavane