Church Minister denies knowledge of reasons

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 19 February 2016, 12:00AM

A church Minister who is suing members of the Elders Committee of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S) was not aware of the reasons they stripped him of his responsibilities in the church.

That’s what Reverend Kerita Reupena told the Supreme Court yesterday during the second day of the hearing. The Elders Committee includes C.C.C.S Chairman, Rev. Elder Tavita Roma, C.C.C.S Deputy Chairman, Rev. Elder Tautiaga Senara and Rev. Elder Kerisiano Soti and Rev. Elder Peleti Toailoa. They are being sued over their decision to strip Rev. Reupena of two senior positions in the church including that of being the Director of the Queensland District in Australia.  

Yesterday, Rev. Reupena told the Court he was asked to leave a meeting where the Elders discussed the issue. He said he was not asked to re-enter the meeting.

 “It was until a later meeting that I was told the positions I held were removed,” he said. 

“I don’t know what I had done wrong. They had not given me any reasons why I was punished. 

“I had asked why but the Chairman said he will answer when it’s time to discuss matters concerning Queensland. After two days they hadn’t given me an answer.”

Rev. Reupena is represented by lawyer Leulua’iali’i Olinda Woodroffe. 

The church is represented by Queen’s Counsel, Francis Cooke, Leota Tima Leavai and Semi Leung Wai. 

During cross-examination, Rev. Reupena maintained he had no knowledge about the reasons for the decision.  

Mr. Cooke put it to him that he must have known but Rev. Reupena said no.

He told the Court though that the members of the Committee had conspired against him because he had raised some issues about a pensioner and a debt owed by the church at Salailua.

 “When the matters were raised, Tavita was angry. He said to punish me as the debt (in Salailua) had been paid.

 “There was some commotion in the meeting and then the Chairman calmed down later on.”

Mr. Cooke continued by telling Rev. Reupena that he is an intelligent man and an experienced elder. It was obvious to him that the decision against him was in relation to the division of the district. 

 “No because the opposition was not on the purchase of the land but because they wanted to break away.”

Rev. Reupena said he hired a lawyer because the Committee had breached the Church’s Constitution when they failed to discuss the issue concerning the district. 

But Mr. Cooke disagreed.

He put it to him that Peleti had contacted him to discuss the issue but he had rejected the offer.

The lawyer claimed that Rev. Reupena knew his authority as an Elder in the district was at stake and his position was going to be discussed in Samoa in March 2015.

Mr. Cooke claimed that before Rev. Reupena came to Samoa, he had already sought a lawyer. 

“You had used Queensland fund to pay for that service,” asked Mr. Cooke. 

Rev. Reupena said it was not true. 

The lawyer also asked questioned the Minister why he had not raised concerns over the decision by the Committee. 

The Minister insisted he had done this and had asked questions about the decision to dismiss him but he had not been given an answer. 

Asked what he would have said if he knew then the reason behind the decision from the Elders Committee, Rev. Reupena said he would have apologized.

The hearing continues today. 

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 19 February 2016, 12:00AM

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