C.C.C.S. Sasina dedicates new church building
The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) at Sasina in Savai'i celebrated the inauguration of a new church building which took seven months to build.
Friday's celebration was attended by church leaders, Government officials, and hundreds of people who traveled from near and far with roots in Sasina, Savai'i.
The dedication service was officiated by Reverend Elder Tanielu Apineru of C.C.C.S. Safotu.
The Chairman of the C.C.C.S, Reverend Elder Tunumoso Iosia, and his wife Susan also graced the gathering with their presence. The leader and deputy leader of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party were also present to witness the auspicious occasion.
In an interview with the Sunday Samoan, Reverend Panapa To'o of the C.C.C.S. at Sasina was overwhelmed.
The completion of the project marks the opening of a new chapter for the congregation, said Reverend Panapa.
He immediately credited God's love and grace for the success of the project.
"This was something that was started by God, and if it weren't for Him, this would not have been possible," Reverend Panapa said.
"From the beginning of this project, God continued to show his love and mercy and he provided everything for us. His spirit really ignited the willingness of our people and instilled this in their hearts and minds.
"That's the beauty of God's work and ministry. I did not have to force the people to contribute and start this project. They brought it up in the first place that we needed a new church building and they all worked really hard to make the dream a reality."
According to Reverend Panapa, the C.C.C.S. at Sasina was first established in 1833 as recorded by Reverend Polutea Talitonu in 1911.
Reverend Polutea Talitonu was the 10th Reverend to have been called to serve and look after the parish since its establishment.
Reverend Panapa To'o and Leafa To'o, who are now looking after the congregation at Sasina, are the fourteenth Reverend to have been called to serve at Sasina since 1833.
They started serving the parish in 1990 and they renovated the old church in 1991. That church building was the third building the C.C.C.S. at Sasina has had since 1833, and it was demolished in the month of June 2020.
The new structure that was opened on Friday is the fourth church building since the church's establishment.
One of the main obstacles the congregation had to overcome since the beginning of the project was the state of emergency restrictions as preventive measures for the global pandemic.
However, that did not stop the people of Sasina nor did it discourage them from finishing the project.
"Discussions for this project started back in the year 2018," said Reverend Panapa.
"Then our country was hit by that measles epidemic and then with COVID-19. These were the factors that I thought would've discouraged our church family from continuing our plans to construct a new church building.
"But that proves that when God ignites and sparks something in your heart, nothing and no one can stop you. Our church family did not stop and were not discouraged, as a matter of fact, it only motivated them to continue on with our plans.
"Their faith in He whom we worship and believe in is far greater, that even a global pandemic and the economic crisis did not halt or delay our plans."
The other significance of the opening of the new church building said Reverend Panapa To'o is that it has united their church family and has brought everyone together.
"Even with the borders closed, our members residing overseas all contributed one way or another to the completion of this project.
"A lot of people with roots from Sasina have contributed and sent over money and donations not only to their families here in Samoa for the project, but also contributed to the church.
"We have also renewed and put into paper the agreements with certain families in the village of Sasina who have gifted parts of their lands for the developments of the C.C.C.S. church at Sasina."
The new structure is a significant step for the church's presence on the big island; it came at a cost of more than $817,106.00ST and it comes fully furnished with fans and air conditioning.
Reverend Panapa then took the opportunity to express his sincere gratitude to those who donated and contributed to the completion of the project.
"I want to thank the Chairman of the C.C.C.S. for donating the full set of Communion table and chairs, Leasi Vainu'upo and his wife and family in New Zealand, Togoi'u Misiki and family, Vagana family, Lealofi Faleata, Lealofi Faletui, Honorable La'auli Leuatea and Tupea Schmidt, Fuiava Fa'afili, Melesala and Failelua, Asomua Jacinta To'o, Nanai Va'a and Fofogalevai, Sugalu Leasi Misiuepa, Fa'afou Fasia Leasi Misiuepa, Mafutaga Sasina in Apia, Punivalu Afitu Lomiga and Ropati Fa'amatogi, Leafa Panapa To'o and children, and Leituala To'o Leasi and Tiana.
"I also want to thank all of those who helped and assisted us in so many ways. God had seen all of your love and all that you have done and we continue to pray that he blesses and be upon you all, always.
"Sending you all love, prayers, and blessings from Sasina."