Church welcomes return of Sunday service
Leaders of the Tanugamanono Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) say they are ecstatic to be able to host a service to coincide with Mother’s Day next week following the relaxation of state of emergency orders.
But Reverend Poasa Toiaivao and his wife, Lemina Toiaivao, say they’re still trying to configure their church to accommodate social distancing requirements for a congregation of more than 260.
“First of all, we thank God for protecting and watching over us and we are thankful also to the government because the health and safety measures they put in place have kept our country safe,” Rev. Toiaivao told the Samoa Observer.
“We feel happy and our elderly are especially happy. They have been wanting to come to Church for a long time but they couldn’t like they are used to doing each Sunday. Church is where they talk and socialise.”
Although churches have reopened in time for Mother’s Day, which is on 10 May, the Reverence said the social emergency restrictions had delayed the usual preparations for the church’s most important day of the year.
Practice for the service normally takes place over three weeks, he said.
“If we didn’t have the [state of emergency], practice for skits and songs for Mother’s Day would have started a long time ago. But nothing is happening right now. So [Sunday] we will begin preparing and practising for Mother’s Day.
“We haven’t been doing any of that at this time because everything has been on lockdown.”
“Our elderly mothers especially have really missed Church. After six weeks, wow. For some of the elderly women it’s like being in prison when they can’t come to Church.”
One thing that the Reverend says has puzzled him about the upcoming Sunday is how to arrange their church to meet social distancing requirements.
The church has a membership of 260. People must remain two metres apart under Government social distancing requirements to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are trying to figure out how we are going to seat them for Church, especially the kids,” Rev. Toiaivao said.
“Like the choir – how do we seat them? They usually sit together. Even for song practice, we have been trying to figure out how to accomplish song practice and maintain social distancing.”
The church at Tanugamanono experienced several challenges during the lockdown, the Reverence said; on Sundays when members brought their toonai, they felt “useless,” Rev. Toiaivao said.
Easter Sunday was especially odd.
“We gathered our children and we did our own Sunday service. We did a play and re-enacted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Today, however, they are happy and relieved to be back to work.
“We pray the Lord will continue to protect our country from this pandemic. Keep praying,” said the reverend and faletua.
Today is the first Sunday of the month which means it is Sacrament Sunday for the C.C.C.S.