Cruciform Light on the ceiling of the King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV Memorial Church, Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Australia, 2009

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Comments (12)

Bulbas on March 18, 2009

It is rather unusual to church.

Ian Stehbens on March 18, 2009

It is indeed, Bulbas.

  1. It was opened on 23 October 2008, by His Majesty George Tupou V, King of Tonga, as the central church for the Tongan community in Australia. It was named after the late King, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV. It is one of the largest churches in Australia.

  2. This church is essentially a replication of Centenary Church in Nuku'alofa in Tonga, though it is intentionally larger both in width and length. Of course, it is more contemporary with digital projection, television, carpets, air-conditioning, large capacity underground water storage, and a modern residence which the Queen Mother (widow of late King, mother of the reigning King) uses when she visits Australia.

  3. Being of the Methodist tradition, this Christian church is quite spartan, having nothing of the icons and ornamentation of Orthodox traditions. However, the upper windows are illustrated windows and 6 have so far been changed to leadlight stained glass windows.

  4. The cruciform light on the ceiling (cross-shaped lighting) was conceived by Rev Sione Pinomi, the Public Officer for the church, and one of their pastors, who was the driving force behind the amazing fund-raising and project development. This lighting concept, derives from the Pangai Methodist Church on Lifuka Island, in the central Tongan group of coral islands called Ha'apai Group. Back in the 1970s, one morning the form of a large cross (complete with serifs) was found as a scorched area on the lawns in Pangai. The locals interpreted this as a sign from God, a miraculous visitation, and so when the new church was built there, the outline of the scorched cross was measured up and then painted onto the ceiling of the new Pangai church. That, I assume, determined the size of the Pangai church. As the Tongans in Australia come not only from Tongatapu (including Nuku'alofa) but also from Ha'apai, the designing of this cross for the ceiling of this new church was significant. Every person whose roots are in Ha'apai walks into this church now and feels a sense of being 'home', and is awestruck by the remembrance of the divine visitation in Pangai in the 1970s.

It is indeed a remarkable and distinctive addition to the church scene in Australia.

Marilyn Whiteley on March 18, 2009

Thank you for the explanation and the beautiful photo. Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on March 18, 2009

And your comment is appreciated, Marilyn.


EVA_L on March 20, 2009

This Church is not on the map, Yan! Really must be a huge modern building! Beautiful story and, as always, wonderful photos, showing the essence of this Church.


Ian Stehbens on March 20, 2009

You are observant, Eva. I am not sure of the date of the aerial photography on the GE site, but it certainly pre-dates the construction of this building.

I have had close involvement with this community, and the pastors are close friends. In fact my farewell from my position at the College was held here last Saturday, and it was a majestic venue, indeed, that was filled with the most amazing choral music of 9 choirs!

If only you could have been there, dear friend. You would have been so pleased.

Sincerest greetings, Yan

EVA_L on March 23, 2009

Farewell from your position?! What was happened, dear Yan? I think that many of people would like you to remain in their posts. But if such are the rules ...

I can only try to imagine how beautiful was the ceremony, filled with beautiful singing, warm and thankful words!

Warm regards, Eva

Ian Stehbens on March 25, 2009

Dear Eva,

After 14 years it was time. So much has been accomplished - way beyond my wildest dreams - it has been a very stimulating calling. So many people and deep friendships, so many places many which I would now regard as sacred places, so many transformations of lives and marriages and communities. And so much has been learnt. It is this element that makes we wonder how I now offer this to others, and what future is in store. I move on readily with great expectation.

The thanksgiving ceremony was just as you anticipated. It was a great conclusion for me. And the choirs were special indeed. And if, one night, you hear the most beautiful harmonies come floating across the Dnepr, you will immediately know from where the music emanated.

In gratitude,


EVA_L on March 27, 2009

If I were near you at this wonderful moment, dear Yan, I probably would not be able to hold back the tears of joy and pride of you at this moment! The great happiness is to know that one was able to help someone in his life.


Ian Stehbens on March 27, 2009

It is a joy, indeed. And there are so many deep friendships that are ours, and there are times when tears are shared.

Thank you for your wonderful friendship, recently expressed in the sharing of your remarkable and rich history and identity. And thank you, Eva, for your understanding, affirmation, and care. I dream that I may introduce you to some of the sacred places and special people, one day. I would be so proud should I ever have that privilege. Meanwhile I am able to be patient for I remember the special walks that I have already been on with you in Kiev.


Olga I. Yakovenko on April 6, 2009


Ian Stehbens on April 6, 2009

Yep, it is. Thanks Olga.


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  • Uploaded on March 18, 2009
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    by Ian Stehbens