Coronavirus delays Methodists' annual conference
In an effort to ease the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the leaders of the Methodist Church have delayed this year’s annual conference indefinitely.
The deferral also includes two of the church’s usual events held every July in advance of the main conference.
These include the Au-uso Felofani (mothers) Conference, the Christianity examinations for the Sunday school students, the graduations for the church ministers and other small annual gatherings.
In an interview with Samoa Observer, the Methodists' General Secretary, Reverend Dr. Eteuati Tuioti, said the church considers the general safety in and out of Samoa Methodist members.
“It’s just like how the Government closed the schools for the safety of the general public but with the church’s decision, it comes with looking at the effects it causes to its members if we continue these events,” he said.
“I wouldn’t call it [a cancellation as such] but the right word to it is onosa’ia (forbearing); to have patience for when the virus is cleared not only looking at Samoa but the other Methodist churches overseas where the virus is unstoppable and strong.”
The deferral of the July main conference follows several discussions by the church leaders which were also not possible due to the current pandemic.
Overseas church ministers residing and serving overseas provide further reasons for the conference to be delayed due to closed borders between countries.
The Methodist church has several affiliates located in American Samoa; parts of New Zealand encompassing South Auckland, North Auckland, Wellington, Southern New Zealand; Australian states including New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, the U.S. state of Hawaii and those on mainland America.
The churches will have to wait until July for further notice about the conference’s rescheduling according to the secretary church minister.
Rev. Eteuati, on behalf of the Methodist church and its President, Rev. Faulalo Leti, urged its members to prioritise safety.
“Every decision made is all for the safety of everyone and as the Government is doing, we’re just forbearing every event until the safety of everyone is secured,” he said.
“Let’s just pray for all of this to finally end and everyone should uphold their faith in good things so we can go back to normality as soon as possible hopefully.”
One of the attendees of the Methodist church at Vaimoso, Petani Metai welcomed the decision by the church.
In a phone interview with this newspaper, the 76-year-old said the decision is intended to save lives.
“I expected to hear about this to be honest. It’s sad that we had to postpone an event that every Methodist member was looking forward to but I know safety comes first,’ she said.
“Let’s just pray that all of this ends soon so we can stop the criticisms, due to the decisions made by our leaders and start fresh again.”