Reverend Vavatau humbled with re-election
The duties of the Secretary General for the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) are to carry out the mandates endorsed by six committees and to cater for their church members.
That obligation is placed on Reverend Vavatau Taufao of Tulaele who was voted into office for another three years.
Known for his mathematics tutoring classes, 59-year-old Rev. Vavatau started off in the church as a teacher, and was eventually promoted head of the church's education system.
In 2016 he was first nominated as the Church's Secretary General and went on to win the vote.
“It is not an easy task, but I am humbled by the opportunity afforded by the members, and the elders. The sacrifice is tremendous considering my family and my role as a father, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I will continue to serve the church in this role,” he said in an interview at his Papauta residence.
At the time of Rev. Vavatau's appointment, the Church was trying to complete the construction of the $17 million tala Jubilee Church, consequently renovations to the John Williams building was put on hold due to poor workmanship.
“It was a difficult time for the Church, but with God’s grace everything fell in place and we completed the Jubilee. At one time, I caught myself staring at the Jubilee and thought is it really finished.
“By the time it was complete, at the same time the John Williams building is also facing problem with its renovations, and then with the taxation of the Church ministers.”
Last year Rev. Vavatau became the face of the Church, leading opposition to the taxation of church ministers and declaring the Church is ready to face the “fury” of the Government.
“The church ministers are before the Court, to adhere the decision by the general conference, and they have the full support of the members.
“Its 56,818-strong membership made its decision at the end of the Fono Tele in 2017 and they stand by that decision despite the potential ramifications — which include the seizure of the church ministers’ personal assets," he said.
Married to Roina Vavatau, they have four children with the youngest four months old, and he acknowledges the support of his wife who resigned from a full-time job to support his church role.
“I rarely have time for my family, but my children and my wife are my strong supporters. They understand that this role comes with a lot of responsibilities.
“My wife had to resign as a C.E.O. of Samoa Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organizations as soon as I was voted into office and I can't thank her enough for sacrificing her career for the role we play in the church," he added.
The job is hectic for Rev. Vavatau and he admits leaving home at 8.00am and returning between 7.00-8.00pm.
“I leave home around 8.00am and I get back between 7.00-8.00pm, the demand of the work is extensive but with my family’s strong support I am able to carry out my duties.”