FROM AN ADVENTIST PERSPECTIVE
Our Mission, Our Values and Church Vision
As a SDA church member and a parent of students at the Wahroonga Adventist School (WAS), I and others have numerous serious objections to the development proposal due to the clear NEGATIVE short-term and long-term implications of such a proposal to the entire Wahroonga Estate and surrounding community. This decision is of paramount importance to our future and our heritage, our mission and our outreach to those we wish to serve. This is an irrevocable one-way decision, if expedited and made in haste, will have far-reaching and irreversible consequences.
The Wahroonga Estate and it’s vision - why a Sanitarium, Church and School?
The Seventh-day Adventist Health Message - The Sanitarium
Quoting from the SAN website -
[The] mission of the Sydney Adventist Hospital, is "Christianity in Action". This defines who we are, what we stand for, and our reason for being here – creating and fostering an environment that guides our work to show that we care for our patients, our colleagues, our community, and ourselves.
In 1903 Sydney Adventist Hospital was founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) for the special purpose of carrying out Christ’s Mission of health and healing. Recognising the biblical importance placed on the well-being of the whole person, the SDA Church makes preservation of health and healing of the sick a priority and considers healthcare to be the human expression of Christ’s healing ministry.
The Church - Responsibility of our church for the education of our children
“Let the church carry a burden for the lambs of the flock in its locality, and see how many can be educated and trained to do service for God.” PH131 8.2
“The church is asleep, and does not realize the magnitude of this matter of educating the children and youth. The church should take the situation, and by their influence and means seek to bring about the desired end”. PH 131 8.4
The Wahroonga Adventist School
“There should be schools established wherever there is a church or company of believers”. PH081 3.1
“In all our churches there should be schools, and teachers in those schools who are missionaries”. PH081 4.1
Quoting from the WAS website -
"The educational program of the Wahroonga Adventist School aims to give primary emphasis to the development of a Christ-like character in the lives of its students and prepares them for the coming of their Lord and Saviour.
The school aims to bring about the balanced development of the physical, mental, social and spiritual capacities, which in turn, leads to the development of a purposeful and responsible citizen."
The needs of the combined communities, not least of all our children, must be prioritised.
A reminder to our SPD leaders of our long-standing beliefs:
The vision all those many years ago - the specific location
“A great work is to be done in Australia, and one important way of advancing this work is the establishment of a sanitarium where the sick can be cared for”. 11MR 225.2
“The building of the sanitarium is the will of God. The work is His work ... It is to be erected economically, without extravagance or display, built according to the mind of God, so that it will be a memorial for Him among other institutions of the kind. It is to be controlled on strictly religious principles, and many souls will be saved. Many will believe the truth and keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Thus all classes can be reached, high and low, rich and poor”. 11MR 225.4
“It was not God’s purpose that people should be crowded into cities , huddled together in terraces and tenements. In the beginning He placed our first parents in a garden, amid the beautiful sights and sounds of nature, and these sights and sounds He desires men to rejoice in today. The more nearly we can come in harmony with God’s original plan, the more favourable will be our position for the recovery and the preservation of health”. 12MR 30.1
“Our retired location will offer comparative freedom from any of the temptations of city life. Here [a new sanitarium was being developed at Wahroonga, about 13 miles from Sydney, Australia] are no liquor-selling hotels or dram-shops [liquor store] on every corner to tempt the unfortunate victim of intemperance. And the pure sights and sounds, the clear, invigorating air, and the sense of God’s presence pervading all nature, tend to uplift the mind, to soften the heart, and to strengthen the will to resist temptation”. Manuscript 12, 1900, 1-2. 12MR30.
The importance of NATURE and a RETIRED locality (not a high density location)
“While the Bible should hold the first place in the education of children and youth, the book of nature is next in importance”. Special Instructions on Education 58. PH131 14.2
“Then let the children become acquainted with nature and nature’s laws. The little children should come especially close to nature. Let them become familiar with its beautiful, varied, and delicate forms. Teach them to see the wisdom and love of God, and His created works; and as their hearts swell with joy and grateful love, let them join the birds in their song of praise. Educate the children and youth ... to imitate the attractive graces of nature in their character building”. Special Testimonies on Education 61.62. PH1341 14.5
Location of our schools
“No pains should be spared to select places for our schools where the moral atmosphere will be [as] healthful as possible, for the influences that prevail will leave a deep impress on young and forming characters. For this reason a retired locality is best”. Special Testimonies on Education 43. PH131 26.1
“In connection with our schools, there should be, as far as possible, large flower gardens, and extensive lands for cultivation”. Special Testimonies on Education 60. PH081 33.2
Location of our sanitarium in Sydney
“Dr Caro once drove me up a long, broad street in Strathfield and showed me the grand buildings going up there as the homes of members of parliament, lawyers, and judges. Then he asked me what I thought of a sanitarium site on this splendid street. I said, “You will be disappointed when I tell you that it is just such places as this that you should AVOID for troublous times are before us. The owners of these buildings are NOT Christians by any means, and the further you get away from their critical observation, the better it will be for your work. Establish the sanitarium in a retired place, and these men, when sick, will soon find it out and will come to it for treatment. God does not want His servants to mingle with the men of the world. By their corrupt practices and pleasures, they have brought the fulfilment of the words, ‘Judgement is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off, for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth falleth, and he that departeth from iniquity makedth himself prey’ (Isaiah 59:14-15). Lt158-1902.5”
OUR UNIQUE HEALTH MESSAGE
Coordinate the Physical, Mental and Spiritual (the SAN, the school, the Church)
“The physical, mental and spiritual capabilities should be developed in order to form a properly balanced character.” Testimonies for the Church 4:197, 198 CG 186.4
“In childhood and youth attention should be given to physical development. Parents should so train their children in good habits of eating and drinking, dressing, and exercise, that a good foundation will be laid for sound health in afterlife. The physical organism should have special care, that the powers of the body may not be dwarfed, but developed to their full extent. This places the children and youth in a favourable position, so that, with proper religious training, they may, like Christ, wax strong in spirit”. The Youth’s Instructor July 27, 1893. CG 187.1
Health Related to Intellect and Morals
“In order to arouse the moral sensibilities of your children to the claims that God has upon them, you should imprint upon their minds and hearts how to obey the laws of God in their physical frames; for health has a great deal to do with their intellect and morals. If they have health and purity of heart, they are then better prepared to live and be a blessing to the world. To balance their minds in the right direction and at the right time is a most important work, for very much depends on the decision made at the critical moment." CG 187.2
“In order for children and youth to have health, cheerfulness, vivacity, and well-developed muscles and brains, they should be much in the open air and have well-regulated employment and amusement.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students 83. CG 339.1
“Inactivity weakens the system. God made men and women to be active and useful. Nothing can increase the strength of the youth like proper exercise of all the muscles in useful labour”. The Signs of the Times Aug 19, 1875. CG 340.1
“Students should not be permitted to take so many studies that they will have no time for physical training. The health cannot be preserved unless some portion of each day is given to muscular exertion in the open air. ...Equalise the taxation of the mental and the physical powers, and the mind of the student will be refreshed.” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene 82, 83. CG 342.4
Why do the Church members, parents and community members object so strongly to the proposed development?
For all those reasons mentioned above. The impact of this development is far-reaching and will impact on all stakeholders alike.
The impact on the Sydney Adventist Hospital will be detrimental with the potential for a major decrease in utilisation of the SAN by Specialist doctors due to the significant increased traffic congestion (in context of the other private hospital alternatives available with easy access such as Macquarie Private Hospital with M2 access). This traffic congestion will also impact the use of the new Specialist Centre on the corner of Fox Valley Road and the Comenarra Parkway. The short-term financial gains made by the one-off sale of such this pivotal land, in the centre of the entire Estate, is a “band-aid” response to poor financial planning and will no doubt lead to further financial crisis of the whole of the Wahroonga Estate.
As well summarised by many other stakeholders, the impact on the Wahroonga Adventist Church and Fox Valley Community Church will be significant, particularly in terms of lack of adequate parking both on Saturdays but also during the week when outreach programs and administrative work is done. The SAN parking is not an adequate solution as it cannot be guaranteed that the parking will not become owned by a third party at some point in the future (as has been seen across many other hospital sites). The proximity of the proposed development to the two existing churches is also a very significant issue as this will pose potential conflicts of interest on Saturday mornings and at other times with congregational needs versus the needs and desires of the new non-Adventist residents.
The major impact on the Wahroonga Adventist School community is of great concern both to the school community but also to our Church members who see the school as a cornerstone the Wahroonga Estate.
➢ This traffic congestion will also impact on school drop-off and pickup times also impacting the safety of the children.
➢ The Wahroonga Adventist School will be overshadowed by the high-rise buildings, causing the children to be without sunlight, which is linked to significant health and mental health issues.
➢ There will be a loss of essential privacy for the safety and wellbeing of our children.
➢ There will be a lack of essential outdoor areas for physical exercise and play. This deprives our children of the harmonious development of the physical, mental and spiritual education that they deserve. This will undoubtedly lead to poor behaviour both in and out of the classroom, along with stunted development.
➢ Many parents find this unacceptable and not inline with quality education and there will be a dramatic drop in enrolment numbers.
➢ The proposal does not allow for any significant growth in the school community, currently 800 students but enrolment to year 12 is not yet complete.
➢ There has been no acknowledgement that this school covers BOTH PRIMARY AND HIGH school students and a lack of suitable space, play equipment, sporting fields and facilities have not been adequately addressed. It will not be able to compete with other private or public schools in the area.
➢ Our children will be subjected to ongoing industrial noise, pollution and restrictions as a consequence of being in a construction zone, some students for the length of the schooling. This also has negative physical and mental consequences.
➢ It is noteworthy to mention that at no stage of the relocation process of Wahroonga Adventist School from the corner of Fox Valley Road and the Comenarra Parkway to its current site, was this proposal made known to the current school community who have been supporting the move both in terms of disruption to their children and also financially.
➢ There was an understanding that significant play areas would be provided in the move and this has never been addressed. There is only one three quarter size oval for the whole primary and high school, which is clearly inadequate. There are no provisions for more essential outdoor space per capita. The needs of junior and high school students mandate different recreational areas.
➢ The current position of the only grassed sports field (Less than 1/2 a soccer field) will mandate that the children will need to regularly cross access roads and move between apartment buildings. This means that neither the primary or high school students will be able to access the grass without being accompanied by a teacher greatly restricting their access to accessible green areas. The risk to students regarding traffic and personal safety as well as a lack of convenience is totally unacceptable. The children will need to be transported by bus to external sports grounds to play basic sport such as soccer, rugby and cricket due to the inadequate space provided.
Not least of all, the impact on the greater community will also be negative. The community will not benefit from high density living in this situation as there is inadequate infrastructure to support this such as easy access to public transport, shops and green recreational areas- this does not accord with current council or state government planning goals. There is a known and well documented demand for the expansion of quality education facilities as well as a community need for further playing fields to be enjoyed by both school and the greater community, including the hospital community. With high-rise development this will remove the available space and place a significant added demand/burden in the immediate area, which is already inadequately provided for in terms of these facilities.
There will also be a negative and important impact on conservation efforts in the local bush area and environment. There will be significant added burden on Coups Creek and bushland areas. This will impact the conservation efforts of natural bushland. There will be an increase in pollution of the area and threaten natural wildlife and endangered flora such as the Sydney Turpentine – Iron Bark forest behind the school (currently protected as an Endangered Ecological Community, and Coups Creek which flows into Lane Cove River).
Words of warning from Ellen G White
“Even some among those who profess to believe the truth will through following wrong principles become greedy for advantage. There are those in our institutions who have for so long worked for selfish ends that they cannot be trusted. They have no sense of honour, or truth, or holiness, or righteousness. Selfishness and greed have expelled from the heart the sanctifying principles of the truth. They have lost all sense of distinction between right and wrong. And because they are in responsible positions - as if position made the man - they say, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we’ - holy because we are handling holy things. But the fact that they occupy an exalted position of trust only makes their guilt a hundredfold greater”. 4MR 76.4
We were warned back in 1902, with respect to the SAN, that “it is not wisdom to become involved in debt. ...A debt is a yoke - a binding, galling yoke. It would not be wisdom to purchase another place near Sydney. You have been pressed almost beyond measure in the effort to build and equip the Wahroonga Sanitarium. It would have been wiser to make the building smaller. I have always thought that it would be best to cut down the building plans still more than they were cut down, and then, when means come in, and if more room were needed, the building could have been enlarged.” Lt158-1902.2
We have as Seventh-day Adventists always believed in repenting and correcting our ways to align ourselves with the will of God. Our predecessors have sought to appeal to their leaders before and we will continue to do this again when necessary. We all need to take heed of these wise words of appeal to a [previous, Aug 6, 1897] leader to repent and reform.
“Throughout every department of His work God will vindicate His honour, His righteousness. Will you not stop right where you are and consider diligently your ways? The Lord cannot endorse your spirit or your course of action. His hand is on the lever. Your plans are not His plans. Do not make others err by leading them to harmonise with your ideas and carry out your plans for the supremacy. Now is your time to repent. Lose not the opportunity. Cherish principles of the purest integrity. Then your spirit will change. You will be upright in your dealings with your fellow men because you are upright in your dealings with God.” 17MR 284.1
We will not abandon our school.
“The schoolwork in a place where a church school has been established should never be given up unless God plainly directs that this should be done. Adverse influences may seem to conspire against the school, but with God’s help the teacher can do a grand, saving work in changing the order of things”. Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students 157. CG 309.3
I sincerely hope that we all continue in earnest prayer for our leaders, our future and our children as well as ourselves, seeking to adhere to the will of God in order to make the right decisions for the future of the Wahroonga Estate and its mission.
Reference abbreviations from Ellen G White:
CH - Child Guidance
Lt - Letter
MR - Manuscript Releases
PH - Pamphlet