Whilst it is pretty poor treatment for a journalist doing her job, the E.F.K.S could probably feel justifiable grievance about how every year at Malua fono time, the Samoa Observer seems to target the E.F.K.S in editorials and other coverage with the clear insinuation that the Malua conference is nothing but a grand waste of money at the expense of the so-called struggling masses of its membership.
There does not seem to be any similar coverage against other churches. The E.F.K.S seems to be singled out for special treatment for an extra kicking.
Having said that, I think the general leadership of the church needs to manage its relationship with the media much better and appoint a special media spokesperson for all media enquiries.
Incidents like this reported in this article just make the church look petty.
However, I think coverage seems to be a bit unbalanced.
It seems to be all about how “expensive” this building has become. In reality, it is actually less expensive than similar-sized church buildings in Samoa.
I am a member of the E.F.K.S as well, and like all churches there are always internal debates.
I was also opposed to the original decision to get rid of the original Fale Iupeli. But here is the thing; the proposal to build the new church came from a New Zealand matagaluega (Manukau).
When the E.F.K.S meets at Malua, the whole of the E.F.K.S meets. Not just a certain elite. It needs to be remembered that when covering this issue of the church building, it was a decision made by the elected representatives of every single church in the E.F.K.S world from New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Samoa. These representatives are up for election every year.
Therefore, the church worldwide membership through their representatives have made this decision. The burden of repaying the loan on the building is shared by every single au lotu in the E.F.K.S world because the Fale Iupeli is essentially the “headquarters church” for the E.F.K.S in the world.
This is where the annual conference always converges every year. Nowhere else. The bulk of the payments will probably come from the foreign currency taulaga of the overseas congregations.
These points seem to have been missed in the coverage.
Perhaps that is because the church has not explained itself effectively through a media spokesperson or perhaps the journalists covering the story have decided to take a particular angle, especially if the reporters are from inside the E.F.K.S.
Sometimes reporters from inside the church get caught up in the politics and the debates and have subconsciously decided on the angle they will take in covering the story.
I don’t know, but I feel the points I have brought up would better convey more balanced coverage. Yes, it is fair to bring up the cost (especially when an N.P.F loan has been received, it is clear public interest), yes it is fair to bring up the hardship of struggling families, but the other points are also fair to bring up as well to balance out the coverage.
By the way, I still believe churches and church ministers should be taxed.