SIBU (Nov 26): After having a wooden church as a place of worship for a long time, residents of Nanga Assan here are relieved that they will be able to worship in a more comfortable new church soon.
This is made possible, thanks to the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) which has allocated funds to construct the new Nanga Assan Iban Methodist Church.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the church site, not far from Rumah Edward Chendang at Nanga Assan yesterday.
Unifor director Richard Lon officiated at the ceremony together with Bishop of Sarawak Iban Methodist Church (SIAC) Reverend Bonnie Sedau, Sibu District Iban Methodist Church Superintendent Reverend Juyah Mabut, chairman of Nanga Assan Iban Methodist Church Construction Committee Dato Ir Alice Jawan and Professor Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan representing the former Reverend Jawan Empaling.
Alice, in her speech, said Nanga Assan is located about 20 minutes from Sibu town, and has 13 longhouses with 80 per cent of its population Methodist.
According to her, the Methodist church was built in 1958. Since then, it has produced three dedicated pastors; namely Reverend Jawan Empaling (retired), Reverend Jonathan Jelanding (former SIAC President, retired) and Reverend Tiong Unjung (contract extended).
“In early 1963, a wooden church was built that can accommodate about 80 people. The structure of the church is still in good condition; however, other features such as walls, windows and roof have begun to wear out.
“After 58 years, the church community has grown and there is a great need for a new church that can accommodate bigger seating capacity,” she said.
Alice said the new church would cost about RM4.8 million.
She also explained that in 2020, the church received a government grant of RM500,000 through Unifor for site clean-up work. Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom handed over the grant.
“The new church is expected to complete in 2024 and once completed, it has a seating capacity of 250 people.
“The church will also have a main hall, childcare centre/kindergarten and pastor’s house,” she said.
She added that construction work of the new church will begin in the first quarter of next year.
Also present were Sibu Water Board general manager Itin Langit and Sibu Rural District Council deputy chairman Wong Ching Yong.