Reverend Siaosi Leleimalefaga retires after 43 years

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Vailoa, Palauli in Savai'i has farewelled Reverend Siaosi and Perelini Leleimalefaga after 43 years of service to the church.

The couple were overwhelmed with emotion throughout the service on Sunday with Reverend Leleimalefaga standing at the pulpit in front of the congregation and a church he called "home" for the past 22 years.

He was called to serve the Vailoa parish in 1998. The Sunday service marked his farewell and exit into retirement, as he had reached the church’s mandatory retirement age of 70 in the service of the Lord through the work of the C.C.C.S church.

"The feeling is overwhelming," Reverend Leleimalefaga told Samoa Observer in an interview. 

"No words can describe how happy and grateful we are for making it this far. This has been our home for so many years, and it's sad to leave; but it is how it should be. I am grateful to God for providing strength and for guiding us through all these years. We are very grateful and we owe it all to the Lord." 

Reminiscing on the years they have spent serving the Lord as a Church Minister, Reverend Leleimalefaga said he will hold all the memories dear to his heart. 

"It will be hard to forget all the years we have spent; it taught us so many lessons, made a lot of new friends that have become family. That is something we hold dear to our hearts."

The highlight of their time at Vailoa was the building of the Vailoa Church which stands to this day. It was not easy, according to Reverend Leleimalefaga, however, they were able to finish it and is one of the biggest churches around that area and is fully air-conditioned.

He then spoke fondly of the "time of offerings for the church". 

"That is something that has grown from strength to strength over our time here at Vailoa. It is their commitment to the church and their service (ola tautua). 

"We have seen that blossom over the years and it is all because of the spirit of the Lord that whispers to His children."

Nevertheless, Reverend Leleimalefaga said leaving the place they considered home for over 20 years is not easy for them. 

"We got used to living life in Savai'i as it has been our home, and it will take some time for us to not think about the people, the life and memories we made here (Vailoa),” he said. "But I have reached the retirement age, so we have to go.

"We will still pray for the people here at Vailoa and continue to serve the church and the Lord."

As he looks ahead to spending more time with his children and family and while enjoying retirement, Reverend Leleimalefaga has a simple message for his fellow brothers in the Ministry. 

"Patience is the key, being in the Ministry is not easy; challenges attack you from different angles and sometimes you can be uncertain and tend to lose hope and faith,” he added. "But my advice for my brothers and sisters in the Ministry is to be patient. Wherever God takes you, he will surely be there to carry you through it, you just have to trust him and remain strong."

Autagavaia Uiese, a senior deacon of the C.C.C.S at Vailoa spoke on behalf of the congregation to thank Reverend Leleimalefaga and Perelini for their service. 

He quoted the Bible as their parting words with their outgoing spiritual parents. 

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

"We congratulate you on your retirement; we also take this opportunity to thank you for your service and contribution to the children and people of Vailoa, Palauli. 

"We have registered nurses, doctors, accountants, policemen, and also a few who have already graduated from Theological College, all thanks to your ongoing push and support for our children. 

"Your prayers and support over the years have kept us safe, and we thank you for that. We will miss you and your family, and we wish you well on the journey ahead." 

Reverend Leleimalefaga and his wife Perelini Leleimalefaga have seven children and are from the villages of Salesatele, Falealili and Matautu. They entered the Malua Theological College in 1973 and graduated in 1976 and were called to serve at the Utuali'i parish from 1977-1992. 

He has also served in the Finance Committee (of the C.C.C.S) from 1980-82 and was a representative of the church for the P.C.C. meeting in Tonga in 1981. 

Between 1985-1987 he became a member of the General Purpose and from 1990-1992, he was selected in the Development Committee and was Chairman of the Development Committee in 1991. 

He was also chosen as a representative of the church to a meeting in Auckland, New Zealand in 1990 and from 1992-1998, he was the Principal at Leulumoega Fou College. 

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