It might not look like much, but a new building – made entirely from recycled materials – in a remote Northern Territory community is the answer to the prayers of the local community.

Roper Gulf Regional Council CDP Senior Employment Supervisor Sommer Meadows tells the Manyallaluk community and visiting stakeholders what it took to build a church from discarded materials when it was officially opened on October 17.

Roper Gulf Regional Council CDP Senior Employment Supervisor Sommer Meadows tells the Manyallaluk community and visiting stakeholders what it took to build a church from discarded materials when it was officially opened on October 17. Roper Gulf Council

The entire community of Manyallaluk (about 105 people), located about 100km northeast of Katherine, attended the official opening in mid-October, at which church leader Rachel Kandino said parishioners had “joy in their hearts” that the project had been completed.

“The church has been praying for this to come to pass for some time,” she said.

“It is a very important part of our community, and now we have somewhere to worship and be together.”

Church leader Rachel Kandino addresses an emotional audience as she talks about the Manyallaluk community’s long-held desire to have a dedicated place of worship, and how it came to be a reality with the help of Roper Gulf Regional Council.

Church leader Rachel Kandino addresses an emotional audience as she talks about the Manyallaluk community’s long-held desire to have a dedicated place of worship, and how it came to be a reality with the help of Roper Gulf Regional Council. Roper Gulf Council

The church in Manyallaluk had been meeting together in parks or on basketball courts, with no shelter from the wet season or the stifling summer heat. They have long-dreamed and prayed to have a building in which to celebrate their faith.

So when the Roper Gulf Regional Council approached the residents of Manyallaluk about doing a work-for-the-dole project in their community, “it was clear that somewhere for people to worship was at the top of the wish list, so Council staff and [Community Development Project] participants decided that creating a church out of an abandoned structure was something that would provide a long-term, genuine benefit,” says Janelle Iszlaub, Community Development Project Regional Manager for the Roper Gulf Regional Council.

Community Development Participants listen intently to what their efforts in creating a unique place of worship means to the residents of Manyallaluk on October 17.

Community Development Participants listen intently to what their efforts in creating a unique place of worship means to the residents of Manyallaluk on October 17. Roper Gulf Council

“The fact that members of the community who were not directly involved in the project did everything they could to assist proves how important and valuable an asset the church is for Manyallaluk,” says Iszlaub.

Using salvaged corrugated iron and security screens, as wall panelling to shield the congregation from the elements, the church also boasts handmade pews and a pulpit, on which permanently rests a bible translated into Kriol.

Every piece of furniture in the church is made from hand, including the pulpit, on which proudly rests a bible translated into Kriol.

Every piece of furniture in the church is made by hand, including the pulpit, on which proudly rests a Bible translated into Kriol. Roper Gulf Council

When the red ribbon was cut to declare the church officially open, one Manyallaluk resident broke down in tears, saying, “I never thought I would see this day. This is so special for us.”

CDP Senior Employment Supervisor Sommer Meadows said, “It might not be much to look at for some, but this is a place of worship – this is a church.”

“I am just so proud of the men who worked so hard to build this for the Manyallaluk community.

“This church is what people here have prayed for for so long, and the men and community have been able to work together to make it happen.”

Students from Manyallaluk School mark the official opening of the tiny community’s new place of worship with a Christian rap, which was taught to them by the men of the congregation.

Students from Manyallaluk School mark the official opening of the tiny community’s new place of worship with a Christian rap, which was taught to them by the men of the congregation. Roper Gulf Council

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Pray for the residents of Manyallaluk that their church will be a place of great joy and praise for Jesus.

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