Amid much celebration and recognition of the tremendous work of volunteers and fundraisers, St James House, the long-awaited facility for the homeless and people in crisis situations was officially opened on Sunday, April 10.
About 100 people gathered at St Clements Anglican Church, Merimbula for the official opening, which began with a special service, with Bishop Trevor Edwards of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra Goulburn. Special guests included member for Bega, Andrew Constance, Reverend David Ruthven, Archdeacon of Wagga Wagga (previously of St Clements) Phil Jacobs, chairman of the Social Justice Advocates and Russell Fitzpatrick, representing council, members of other denominations and those who were involved in the planning and execution of the project, such as Mick Brosnan.
Mr Ruthven was a champion of the cause to get the shelter built after the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast came up with the idea. When the Catholic Diocese declined to have it on their property, the Anglican Church jumped on board.
“One of the ways we show we love our neighbours is by having an open door,” Mr Ruthven said.
Mr Constance was full of praise for everyone involved. “This community has come together in an incredible way to help those in incredible need,” he said.
During the service, the bishop dedicated a recently installed stained glass window in the church and announced that the diocese had appointed Reverend Lou Oakes as the Rector of the Sapphire Coast Anglican Parish.
After the service, the large crowd moved to the grounds for the formal opening of the new building and chairman of the planning task force, Sandy Macqueen pointed out that the shelter was totally funded by donations from the state government, the Social Justice Advocates from funds raised at their annual Samaritans shop, the Pambula branch of the Bendigo Bank, other community groups and individuals.
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