Church pushes ahead with Minister’s appointment

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) in Falevao has chosen Reverend Tafa’igata Galumalemana as its Church Minister.

Speaking on behalf of the church yesterday, Filo Ah Sam who is the Falevao C.C.C.S. Deacon, said their decision is final and it cannot be changed.

“The church members have decided and no one can change what the church has decided! We stand by our decision,” reiterated Filo, who is also the Secretary for the Church. 

The previous Reverend has retired. 

The said church is where Prime Minister Tuilaepa Neioti Dr Sailele Malielegaoi is a member and he is also the Paramount Chief. The PM denied having anything to do with the decision making. 

This week Reverend Tafa’igata and his family were scheduled to attend their welcoming service to carry out their covenant with the C.C.C.S. Falevao. But it was postponed upon the request of Reverend Elder, Samuelu Limu, who oversees the district that includes Falevao. 

Saoluafata C.C.C.S. Reverend Elder Samuelu confirmed the postponement of the covenant service, but declined to comment on the issue at hand. 

“I cannot comment on any of the issues you have raised,” he said. 

When he was asked about the selection of the Church Minister in the village setting, instead of the church setting, Rev Samuelu said: “I cannot comment.” 

This newspaper also reached out to the C.C.C.S. Elder Reverend Tavita Anesone, who confirmed the C.C.C.S. does not accept the selection by the Falevao Church. 

“We have written to Rev Limu and told him that the service welcoming the new church minister for Falevao should be stopped.

“The Church does not accept the selection by the church,” said Rev Anesone.  

But Filo said their decision will not change and added that the postponement was a oneoff. 

“It was out of respect to the Reverend Elder Limu we accepted the postponement but just this once. 

“The Falevao church is ready to welcome our new Reverend and it has been scheduled for March,” he said. 

There are 50-plus families serving the church, and 90 per cent have already given their donations to fund activities to welcome the new church minister. 

When Filo was asked whether the selection of the church minister was done in the village setting or the church setting, he said: “There is one church in Falevao and that is the C.C.C.S., and so the Village Council is made up of Chiefs who are all members. The normal practice is that we raise the matter with the Village Council, and then upon agreement we vote in the church, and then the Reverend Elder will attend to certify our selection.” 

But this was not the case with Falevao. 

“It was discussed in the village council, there were two nominees, and then we took it to church for the Reverend Elder to attend to certify our selection. 

“However, the Reverend Elder disputed one of the names. The church did not agree, so we went ahead and voted on the two names. 

“We have selected Reverend Tafaigata to be our Church Ministers and the service was to be this weekend, and to our surprise it has been on hold as our selection was not accepted. 

“It has to be stated that although it was rejected, the covenant Falevao makes is with the Church Minister not the Congregation Christian Church of Samoa and not anyone else,” Filo added.  

“Under the policies of the Church, the Elders and the Reverend Elder that oversees our District does not have a say in who we select, they endorse. 

“As far as we know Falevao has not violated any of the C.C.C.S. standing policies.

“Furthermore, the Church’s Minister’s covenant is with the village not the C.C.C.S.,” Filo added. 

When he was asked whether there are plans for the church to become independent – if the C.C.C.S. continues to reject their selection of their church minister – and Filo was reluctant to answer.  

“That’s a hard question….but if they continue to reject our decision, then my question why…..why have they decided to reject our decision,” he said. 

The Church Secretary also rubbished claims by other church members that the Prime Minister was involved in the decision making. 

“The Falevao village consists of many High Chiefs, and while Neioti is the Paramount Chief of this village, there are other chiefs in the village who deliberated and consulted on the matter. 

“And to suggest that the Prime Minister made the decision alone is absurd. He is not the only chief in our village council.  Don’t insult the village council,” Filo added. 

He said their village followed all the protocols. 

“I must say that Neioti donates the premier (taulaga) offering and gives the highest alofa for the previous church Minister, if anything, he does have a say in the events of our church,” said Filo. 

The Prime Minister during his weekly program confirmed the “issue” in the village and said he was not involved. 

“Our village council met to discuss the issue, and all I did was observed.” 

According to the Prime Minister, the welcoming service has been postponed to March, 2019. 

The Samoa Observer also contacted Reverend Tafaigata. However, he declined to comment, noting they are “merely servants and they will await the decision by the village.”  

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