A paramount Chief of the village of Vaiala, Patu Ativalu, has deflected criticisms of the way he and another senior matai pushed the appointment of a new Church Minister for the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in the village.
“Whatever Tofaeono and Patu say, that is the voice of Vaiala,” Patu told the Samoa Observer.
His comments were sought following complaints from some village members who were unhappy about the process adopted to choose a replacement for their long serving Church Minister, who recently retired.
The village members asked for their names to be withheld because they could be banished from the village if they are identified.
One of them said the decision should not be made by one or two people in the village.
But this is exactly what happened two Sundays ago when the Church met to consider a replacement Pastor.
“We were just told that the decision has been made by Patu and Tofaeono,” the church member said.
“The announcement was followed by directions to members of the parish about what each matafale (family) has to contribute when we welcome the new Minister.”
The church member accused the senior chiefs of being “dictatorial” and “authoritative.” She said many church members are not happy but they are afraid to speak up for fear of repercussions from the Village Council.
Asked for a comment, Patū Ativalu denied that the appointment was dictatorial.
He explained that the people of Vaiala would not question the decision because they know the proper protocols in their village.
“We don’t have to select or consult about who our next pastor should be,” he said.
“What comes from Patu and Tofaeono, that’s where everyone should follow.”
Besides, the former Member of Parliament said there was always an opportunity for people to voice their disagreement.
“We’ve also given the chance to the church members to say if someone was against it but no one dared to stand up and say something,” he said.
“So as far as we are concerned, we will go on with our decision.”
At Vaiala, there is only one denomination and that is E.F.K.S.
Their former Pastor is long-serving Minister, Reverend Elder Lotu Uele, who retired last year after 22 years in the village.
The Samoa Observer has been told that his son, who had recently graduated from Malua Theological College, will be his replacement.