By Mervyn Holland
At last, after three postponements in 18 months, the Salvos’ Edwards Road church and facilities at Nelson were officially opened and dedicated last Saturday 2nd April.
Ray Williams MP, State Member for Castle Hill, (who deputized for Alex Hawke, Minister for Immigration) presented the Australian and Aboriginal flags to former leaders of the Rouse Hill congregation, Majors Nigel and Sandy MacDonald, and Major San Holland.
Two plaques were unveiled – the first, a memorial plaque recognizing a generous bequest to the building project by the late Denise Cobcroft, a widely known and highly respected identity in Australian horse racing circles.
Commissioner Janine Donaldson, National President of Women’s Ministries and joint spiritual leader of the Salvation Army Australia with her husband Robert, unveiled the Foundation plaque and dedicated the building to be a place of hope, acceptance, and spiritual awakening of all people without discrimination.
A flag parade led the large crowd of spectators into the church building where a civic greeting from The Hills Shire Council Mayor, Dr Peter Gangemi, was delivered by Deputy Mayor, Clr. Mark Hodges.
He said: “I like to refer to our Salvation Army volunteers and personnel as “undercover angels” doing extraordinary things.
“Your well-known uniform and your message of hope are the proud proof of your generosity, strength, and compassion.
“Just recently our outstanding Salvos answered calls for help after our most recent flooding crisis – also the second flooding event we’ve had in the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment in the past 12 months.
“In the current floods they’ve served hot meals to first responders and evacuees, and also handed out more than 1000 support hampers to those who had lost absolutely everything.
“They are working with 20 other relief agencies in the Hills, Hawkesbury, Blacktown, Hornsby, and Gosford shires to support those who have been affected by this natural disaster.
“The new accessible church and community facility is a great benefit to the people of the Hills and Hawkesbury, and further beyond. “I also encourage those who are in a position to volunteer, to look at ways they can get involved with The Salvation Army. Councillor Hodges, solicitor, and former police officer added:
“The presence of your chaplains in our courts brings help and hope to many who would be lost without your people there. They bring light and life into many dark situations.”
Commissioner Robert Donaldson, National Commander of The Salvation Army Australia, said: “We gather here today on the land of our First Nation’s peoples, with civic, and state leaders, working together to change the world for good.
“We have Salvation Army members and volunteers who help us serve God and our society and we have a clear mandate to fulfil our mission statement to ‘Encounter God, Encourage People, and Engage Society’.”