C.C.C.S. Sapapali'i commemorates 190 years of Christianity in Samoa
The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa [C.C.C.S.] at Sapapali'i in Savai'i marked a very historic anniversary on Monday.
It was the celebration of 190 years since the arrival of Christianity in Samoa.
Every year on August 24, the C.C.C.S. Sapapali'i celebrates the arrival of missionaries from the L.M.S. (London Missionary Society) church in Samoa with a thanksgiving service. The celebration brings together all the people of Sapapali'i, from different ages, walks of life and parts of the island.
However, due to travel restrictions as part of the state of emergency, many could not make it to this year's celebration.
That, however, did not dampen the spirits of those in attendance at Monday’s celebration, according to the Minister for C.C.C.S. Sapapali'i, Reverend Esera Auatama Esera.
"On the 24th of August every year, we have this special service to commemorate and mark the arrival of Missionaries in Samoa," Reverend Esera told the Samoa Observer.
"And today, we celebrate 190 years since John Williams and L.M.S. missionaries came on the boat, [the] messenger of peace [who] brought Christianity in Samoa.
"The C.C.C.S. celebrates the arrival of Christianity in Samoa on the first Sunday of September every year, which we call: ‘Aso Sa o le Talalelei’.
"But for us at Sapapali'i, we celebrate it on August 24."
Speaking on the significance of the celebration, Reverend Esera said it is essential that the younger generation of churchgoers are reminded of such a historical event.
"The commemoration every year is done as a thanksgiving service to God for choosing the soils and land of this village as the destination of the missionaries who brought Christianity to Samoa,” Rev. Esera said.
"It is also done as a reminder for the younger generation of the importance of the place they grow up in (Sapapali'i) because it was chosen by God as the home of Christianity in Samoa.
"It was where Christianity was accepted by the fore-fathers of this village. So having this service every year is a great way to remind them that Christianity started from this place and village.
"Moreover, the service is done especially so we can pray for growth, spiritually."
Reverend Esera said that many of Sapapali'i’s descendants live aboard and had wanted to be there for this year's commemoration.
"We received a lot of phone calls from our people living and staying overseas who wanted to be here for the service. But we understand why they could not be here,” he said.
"They sent through their monetary contribution and well wishes as they could not make it back home because of the global pandemic.
"In the past, Sapapali'i descents would travel from overseas for this service."
A similar service was conducted in Auckland to commemorate 190 years since the arrival of Christianity in Samoa, said Reverend Esera.
Reverend Esera and his wife Tamara Esera have been serving the C.C.C.S. Sapapali'i parish for nearly 23 years.
Reflecting on their early days in the parish, Reverend Esera said much had changed when it came to commemorating Christianity’s arrival in Samoa.
"Back when we first [arrived] at Sapapali'i, only the C.C.C.S. churchgoers [attended] this service,” he said.
"People from other denominations did not attend, and that was something we prayed and worked on.
"Fast forward today, the service has united all the people from the other denominations. Which is a blessing and such a joy to see everyone coming together to give thanks to the Lord for choosing Sapapali'i as the ‘home for Christianity in Samoa.’
"And it's good to see that there is no more barrier among the different denominations. That to me, is a true virtue of Christian values and beliefs.
"We are all equal and we are united in God. And we want to continue doing that, moving forward. Everyone comes together to celebrate and give thanks to our Lord for his never ending love and blessings."
Church Ministers from Sapapali'i who are now serving different parishes all around Samoa were invited to partake in the special service.
Reverend Ioane Tauiliili from the C.C.C.S. church at Salelavalu was given the honor to conduct Monday’s sermon.