S.D.A. church in "reconciliation" over Sabbath split

The Seventh-Day Adventist (S.D.A.) church in Samoa is undergoing a private “reconciliation” between two factions holding different views on observing the Sabbath, the President of its Samoa and Tokelau Mission says.

Pastor Sione Ausage declined to reveal further detail about communications between leaders of the S.D.A.’s  Samoa and Tokelau missions about the Sabbath disagreement.

One church observes the Sabbath on Saturdays while a sister congregation on Sundays, following contrary interpretations about the impact of Samoa’s switch across sides of the international dateline in 2011. 

“All I can say at this time is: the Church is in a reconciliation period.  The details cannot be disclosed nor revealed,” the Pastor said in an email. 

Last month members of the S.D.A. Church in the village of Samatau said they are sharing one church building.

One congregation uses the building on Saturday and the other congregation uses the church on Sunday.

The Sunday gathering is the S.D.A. Church Samatau, which comes under the Samoa and Tokelau Adventist Mission in Lalovaea where Pastor Ausage is the president.

Pastor Ausage is from Samatau.

The Saturday congregation is the Ekalesia Tausi Sapati Aso Fitu o le Toe Afio Mai i Samatau. 

S.D.A. members say the situation is sensitive. 

Before the dateline change they worshipped together on the same day, Saturday.

About two years after Samoa switched time zones, on 17 October 2013, the office of President of the General Conference of the S.D.A. Church issued a statement acknowledging an “unusual ambiguity” in Samoa.

“Today a majority of Seventh Day Adventists Christians in Samoa are meeting on the day now commonly called Sunday in Samoa—which is the same day of the week that their Adventist church family in American Samoa, only 64 kilometres away, worship on and call Saturday,” the statement explains.

“A minority of our community is meeting on the day now commonly called Saturday in Samoa, but is called Friday in American Samoa. Both groups believe they are meeting on the seventh day of the week. The Adventist Church acknowledges the unusual ambiguity that exists in Samoa, and accepts communities meeting on both days for the time being.”

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