His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Efi
Head of State
Remarks at Lalovaea, Apia, Samoa, 3 December 2016
I am grateful for the invitation to share with you today in the celebration of this wonderful milestone in your church history.
To reach the age of 125 years and still be strong and healthy as a church is no small feat. 125 years is at least four generations of solid commitment and service.
In April, this year Filia and I had the privilege of sharing a flight to Pago Pago with your President, Pastor Wilson and his good wife. During that flight, we shared excellent conversation and they demonstrated by word and action beautiful compassion and decency.
When Filia made comment about the weather, Pastor Wilson offered to pray for us. The simplicity of his prayer moved me and reflected a person of earnest sincerity who has a deep sense of vocation. This sincerity was made even more apparent when after the prayer, we engaged in an enthusiastic conversation about theology and ecumenism.
I am a strong believer in the power of God’s love and wisdom. His teachings about loving our neighbours, about reciprocity, about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, is core to my ecumenism. Ecumenism is about decency and tolerance. It is not judgemental. It is about believing in the good of humanity and celebrating our diversity. Ecumenism is humble and always puts first our love for God.
Our search for God’s love and wisdom will never end. In Samoan, this is captured in the words “vavau” and “faavavau”. They are about timelessness. Both the past and the future are timeless. Because time is forever; time belongs to God,and God is forever.
When we are most down and need solace,we turn to that which can give us strength and hope. Saying the words of the famous serenity prayer has helped manyaddicts who have felt really discouraged and needed strength. They would pray: “Dear God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. I love this prayer because it is about having strength in humility.
The forebears of your church travelled thousands of miles 125 years ago,to carry out their faith and conviction. Today we acknowledge that faith and pay tribute to their sacrifice.
I have always been impressed not only by yourhealth message but also by how you practice that message. Your commitment and service to developing health professionals and healthy foods is testament to the service you give to our community.
The contribution of one of your sons tothe composition of our national anthem is also a gift that we will always remember each time we sing it.
For all these things, we are eternally grateful.
What we are celebrating today is not just 125 years in time. What we are celebrating is also 125 years of ongoing vision, values, commitment and service.
Let me close with Paul’s words: “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.(Romans 15: 13, NIV).
As we celebrate may we remember these words and be guided by the Holy Spirit as you move into the next 125 years.