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Methodist Church reaffirms ban on bingo

The Methodist Church of Samoa has reaffirmed its position against gambling and says its ban on games such as bingo remains in place.

The Upolu Sasa’e Methodist Churches put forward a notion to the major Church Conference seeking to allow bingo only as a fundraiser for the church.

“With all due respect to the Chairperson and the rest of the Conference, we continue to humbly request the Conference, please, if this is not the right time to open our beliefs for bingo and bingo only, for fundraising purposes of the churches in order to increase and develop our churches," said Upolu Sasa'e former synod leader, Reverend. Iose Semi.

“The problem is, we are still forbidding it while the rest of the other denominations are all playing bingo,” 

The Conference Committee responded by saying it wasn’t an easy discussion and decision to make because the foundation of the Church's position was longstanding. 

“It has been years since the Church has held on to its beliefs and traditions; there is a desire for the development of the Church but we can't because of our laws and foundations that have been laid by our forefathers, as it is the sacredness of the Church," the decision of the Conference Committee concluded. 

“For this [reason] we strongly object this motion."

Methodist Church President, Reverend Faulalo Leti, highlighted the matter again in an interview with Samoa Observer.

"Once you talk about the constitution of the Church and its laws, those are the sort of things that should be followed by the Church because it is what directs everything the Church does," said the Reverend. 

"What I mean by that is, this is the system of the Methodist Church, there is a process that is followed when it does its works, just like the Government."

However, in regards to members of the Church who utilise TV bingo and other gambling activities, Rev. Leti said that is the free will of the individuals but the Church will not engage in such activities.

"That is something for the individuals themselves to decide upon. The Reverend cannot oversee each and every one of the congregation, including those who play bingo, but the Church law remains," he said. 

Reverend Elder Aisoli Iuli also reminded the conference to stay true and abide in the laws of the Church, saying the measina of the Church remains its founding laws, said Rev. Leti.

Also rejected by the Conference Committee was a request from the Apia Sisifo synod in relation to a raise in the salaries of the workforce in the Church’s different departments.

“We humbly request the President and the Conference Committee to increase the salaries for those who are working in the various areas of the Church, plus everyone else working with the Church," the motion read. 

“The Cabinet have approved of an increase to the salaries of those working with the government, it would be nice for the Church workforce to be able to go together with it, with all due respect.”

A similar motion was voiced by Upolu Sisifo, requesting a raise in salaries for the Methodist pre-school teachers and other members of the workforce. 

The Conference Committee declined to approve both motions, saying the Church affairs do not vary according to Government regulations, and it would remain the prerogative of the Church Office.

Rev. Leti said the Church is looking into schools and their performance and it was not desirable to raise salaries "while teacher performances are not good". 

"There is already a scaling process in place that looks into such matters like salaries, plus the overall administering of the Church based on performance, in order for an increase to happen altogether," said the Methodist President.

"To avoid instances where one department has their salaries raised while the rest remain idle, [we should] make sure it's fair and all.

"Everything depends on the overall views of the Church's main office."

Reverend Leti was recently ordained into the Presidency role earlier this month during the Church's annual conference, taking over from Reverend Elder Apineru Lafai.

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