MR ENTSCH: (Leichhardt) (13:37): Next week I’ll be travelling up again to one of the most beautiful islands in the Torres Strait, Erub Island.
It will be a very important visit for me.
Last year, when I visited the island to catch up with local leaders, I was struck by the worn beauty of one particular building, the All Saints Anglican Church, which is heritage listed.
The building represents a significant period in Torres Strait heritage when Christianity was brought to the region.
The London Missionary Society arrived in the Torres Strait on the vessel HMS Surprise, led by two Englishmen, the Reverends MacFarlane and Murray.
They landed on Erub on 1 July 1871.
This was the first contact between islanders and missionaries, which came to be known as the ‘coming of the light’.
The All Saints church was built in 1919, using locally produced lime from burnt coral and basalt, under the directions of an Erub Islander by the name of Manai and a South Sea Islander named Albert Ware.
Since then, however, the building has slowly declined from erosion, a lack of funds for ongoing renovations and maintenance work, and a shortage of local skill sets.
The congregation numbers have dropped with additional churches in the community.
Over the past year I’ve been working closely with My Pathway, which runs Community Development Program activities for Erub, to ensure that the church is restored to its former glory in time for the centenary anniversary in February next year.
The project is one of more than just restoration. It means so much spiritually to the island’s residents.