Rev.Tumama and wife exit after 36 years
A Congregational Christian Church of Samoa minister and his wife who served the church for 36 years have retired.
Reverend Elder Tumama Vili and his Elisabeta were acknowledged for their service in a ceremony on Sunday, especially their contribution to the CCCS Christchurch community in New Zealand.
The length of his ministry in the C.C.C.S. Christchurch community is one of the longest on record.
The missionary couple were supposed to travel to Samoa for the church’s annual conference, where they would have made their formal exit from the church, but the closure of international borders due to the coronavirus pandemic ensured they didn’t travel back home.
Rev. Tumama, 71, hails from the village of Vaovai, Falealili and his wife Elisapeta from the village of Lotofaga.
Their retirement ceremony was attended by members of the congregation as well as families and friends. And due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that came with it, a Zoom conference was held on Friday 14 May at the Malua Jubilee Church for the couple to be formally farewelled.
Rev. Tumama explained their work and acknowledged the continuous support given by their families, especially the congregation whom they had been serving for over 30-years.
"We are just grateful for the journey that we have been facing, throughout the many years we have been called to serve in God's Ministry,” said Rev. Tumama.
“Nothing else but a thankful heart from us, money and celebration is not important to us but you attending today, we are much appreciated by that and we cant thank you enough.”
Emphasising that they are happy that their send-off ceremony was held in their own church, he said it has been a privilege for him to serve in that position.
Rev. Tumama’s wife Elisabeta expressed similar sentiments on the significance of the ceremony.
"We are happy that the ceremony took place within our very own church despite the normal celebration to be held in Samoa every year, in honoring the retired ministers who have been serving for more than 30-years,” said Elisapeta.
“As for the Women's Fellowship usual activities in Malua, whenever there's a retired minister’s wife they provide gifts and honor them with their service and since my term of being the Chairman of the C.C.C.S Women’s Elders Committee has done now, it's a privilege for me to take up this position with so much respect.
“We thanked God for the strength and courage he has given to us for the completion of his ministry’s work.”
Rev. Tumama then added that the love and support for them is overflowing – not only within their congregation but for everyone who has taken part in their journey.
"Thank you to our Districts(Matagaluega i N.Z I Saute) for the continuous support they have been given, mostly grateful for is that the annual conference at Malua has finally approved the spiriting of our districts from one of having two districts, for now we have our own districts called Matagaluega i Niu Sila i Saute including Nelson to Christchurch, for that we left but we have something to leave behind for the church and for the future.”
Rev. Tumama and Elisapeta graduated from the Malua Theological College (1975 to 1978), then attended the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji (1979-1981).
After graduating from Fiji they came and served for four-years at Malua Theological as preacher from 1982 until 1985 until the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Christchurch called them from 1985 until 2021.
Rev. Tumama was expected to retire last year but a ceremony took place at the end of the year for the retired ministers and couldn't insist on travel due to Covid-19 restrictions.