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Witnesses sell, Elim buys

Last updated 05:00 05/09/2013

GREAT VIEW: The Elim Church’s new premises in Wattle Downs was formerly the Jehovah’s Witnesses New Zealand headquarters.

Pastor Boyd Ratnaraja
Scott Morgan
BIG SPACE: Pastor Boyd Ratnaraja and his wife Sharon show off the space where Elim Church’s new soup kitchen will be located.
Scott Morgan
HARD WORK: Volunteers set up the church’s new op shop.

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It was the national headquarters for the Jehovah's Witnesses for 30 years.

But the 7.5ha Wattle Downs property has now been sold to Elim Church and could soon house a new Christian college.

Jehovah's Witness minister George Gray says advances in technology mean the property is no longer needed for running the church's New Zealand and South Pacific activities which will now be administered from Australia.

Elim Church bought the property for its growing South Auckland congregation and volunteers helped transform the site in just a matter of days.

Pastor Boyd Ratnaraja says the congregation moved in on a Sunday straight after morning services at their much smaller Weymouth Rd premises.

"They have done a superb job of setting up," he says.

The church will hold services for its 450-strong congregation at its new home as well as running counselling sessions and operating an op shop and a weekly soup kitchen.

"We believe in reaching out to the community. We want this to be a centre of hope. People don't have to be Christians," Mr Ratnaraja says.

The congregation also hopes to build a Christian college on the site, similar to its school in Botany.

Many students from southern suburbs already travel to the Botany junior and senior campuses, Mr Ratnaraja says.

"We'd love to have primary, all the way to secondary. That's our vision."

The church's Bible college will also shift to the Wattle Downs complex in October.

Mr Ratnaraja says it's amazing how easy the sale process was to complete.

"There were a few groups interested in it. We had favour with the Jehovah's Witnesses. They wanted to give it to a faith-based organisation. They put so much love and care into this place. We want to maintain this property. We want to honour them because they were phenomenal."

Elim Church has four campuses in Auckland.

Mr Gray says he wasn't surprised there was plenty of interest in the property.

"We had a large property that was pretty much in pristine condition. We always make sure we take care of our buildings."

The church will maintain a presence in the south at its South Auckland Assembly Hall.

Services at Elim's new home start on Sunday at 9am and 10.45am at 198 Mahia Rd, Wattle Downs.

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- Manukau Courier

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