A paramount chief of Falelatai, Misa Iuli Anae, has called on the Elders Committee of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) to reconsider its decision to remove Reverend Opapo Soana’i’s pastoral role.
He has also called for a peaceful solution to the matter, confirming that a call for another senior official of the church, Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara, to be removed, has been rejected.
Speaking to the media, the Chairman of the Village and the Si’ufaga Church said the decision to punish Rev. Soana’i over the statue of Mary is inappropriate.
“First of all, the Siufaga Church is not standing on the air or in the ocean, it’s in the village,” Anae said.
“The Elders of the church don’t have the right to ban Rev. Opapo from the village of Falelatai because this is my village, this is my church building, and my land that the church is built on.
“Stripping off the roles from Rev. Opapo is their right because we didn’t give him any roles and we didn’t appoint him to be the Minister. But to remove him from the village and the church of Siufaga, that’s not their decision to make.
“If they think they have the right to the minister and the church members, then they are wrong.”
Misa made it clear that the Church’s power ends at the gates of Malua.
“To demand the minister to leave the village and the church, that is not for them to decide.
“They should know that the church is not standing on air nor is it standing in the ocean. It’s located on land that belongs to families and no one can take that away.
“We have to be careful because we have already made an oath in front of God that the person He has sent is His servant. He is an instrument for God.”
Misa said the Elders Committee should have attempted to contact the village to find out their thoughts.
“So we’ve has come up with the decision that we don’t accept the Elders decision for Rev. Opapo to step down and leave the village.
“We already have guidelines and regulations that we have agreed and signed between the pastor and the village and if the church minister violated these guidelines and breaks these rules then that is when he packs his things and leave.
“But the minister did not break any rules so there is no way he will leave.”
Misa said the village met on Monday and the chiefs are keen for the matter to be resolved peacefully.
“We are preparing a letter that we will sign to give to the Elders of the Church to defer their decision on Rev. Opapo but to give back all his roles as the church minster.
“Secondly, the letter presented by Siufaga for Rev. Tautiaga Senara to step down from his role of being the Chairman of the Church and the minister of Matautu Falelatai has been rejected by the Falefitu.
“They (Elders) should also bear in mind the church will be shattered and the people of the church will look elsewhere to go to church.
“We are more concerned about the church and the gospel of God that’s been in Samoa for so long and now it’s going to be shattered because of their decision.”
Last weekend, Rev Soana’i, the father of a woman who claims to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering, said he had been stripped off his pastoral by the Elders Committee.
“They’re giving me conflicting reasons,” Rev. Soana’i said. “On Monday, Senara called to inform me that I had been stripped of all my duties. I asked him why and he said it’s because of the statues of Mary and Jesus inside our church.”
Rev. Soana’i protested his innocence saying he has done nothing wrong.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t committed adultery, I haven’t used any of the church’s money and I haven’t been caught drunk.
“In the Church Constitution, there is nothing in there against statues of Mary and Jesus. If you look at all the churches, there are images of Jesus and Mary everywhere. Those are statues too.”