Tears shed as Rev. Elder Utufua and Taiaopo Naseri farewelled
Tears were shed during the final Sunday service for Reverend Elder Utufua and his wife Taiaopo Naseri's at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Apia.
The Apia congregation bid an emotional farewell to their beloved Rev. Utufua and his wife who have been serving the local congregation for 21 years and 43 years totally for the church.
A spokesperson from the Apia Church fought back tears as he conveyed the respect held for the Reverend and his wife, saying they wish they could have them there longer.
Rev. Utufua, who just celebrated his 71st birthday a day before, spoke highly of his congregation and their willingness to serve.
"I thank God for giving us the strength to serve in in this congregation," he said.
"I’m thankful for the life given for God, especially for this congregation, they have been so kind.
"This congregational are very devoted and they have always been kind and loving. Also very respectful towards and always holding the highest regard for the servants of the Lord.
"So I also thank their forefathers for laying the foundation for this congregation, which they now still follow."
He said work is always easy when the congregation's hearts come together.
Rev. Utufua told Samoa Observer that everything that took place in their years of service in Apia were considered of significance, but the most important are the youth.
"The hardest part about leaving are the youth, those who were already in school when we arrived into the church," he said.
"They now have families of their own, and children; these were the ones we carried, baptised, go through Sunday school and a'oga faife'au.
"There are also those who were born after we arrived that are now in the youth, choir and they are each living successfully.
"And that is the highlight of our service here; [it's] seeing that it is still growing and developing."
Reverend Utufua and Taiaopo entered C.C.C.S. Apia in 1998 with five children, now they are leaving with five children, their spouses and 12 grandchildren all born and raised into the Apia congregation.
Reverend Utufua's leaving message to the Church was to abide by the youth, bring them to church and to protect them.
"It’s the same message that I always give, because of the location of the Church, it’s in town, and it has many challenges," he told Samoa Observer.
"And that’s why with the building of the church and its congregation, it’s to protect our youth from the usual challenges of being in the town area.
"That is always the message we keep repeating, to keep the youth in the church, for their benefit and future, because the doors of the devil are coming in fast but I am happy unity is still seen from most whom grew up with us."
He made it clear his life of service to God is not over, as he and his wife will continue to serve the Lord wherever He decides and points them to.
Reverend Utufua commenced serving the church as a teacher in the church mission schools from 1976 to 1982. He served in the Church’s Finance Committee and was the Chairman of the Elders Committee.
He also served as Chairman of the Church in 1994-1995.