Church's finances unaffected: Vavatau

The spokesperson for one of the biggest church denominations in the country has denied their finances are being affected by COVID-19, claiming the pandemic has rather boosted the offerings.

Congregational Christian Church of Samoa [C.C.C.S.] Secretary-General, Rev. Vavatau Taufao, in response to a Samoa Observer story titled “COVID-19 pandemic strikes C.C.C.S. finances” said the article was erroneous. 

The article outlined several recommendations made in a report from the church’s treasurer, Rev. Rimoni Wright, where he predicted the epidemic will impact the church’s offering by $20 million this financial year.

He further made recommendations to halt major projects for two to three years and asked the church to consider making staff redundant and stop hiring new recruits. 

But in an interview with church-owned E.F.K.S. T.V., Rev. Taufao said the article was erroneous and the recommendation from the treasurer was only made just in case something happens.

To support his claim, the Secretary-General made reference to the church’s offering [taulaga Samoa] for the financial year 2019, which he said has increased by $300,000 compared to the previous year.

According to a report from the C.C.C.S. Finance Committee Chairman and member of the Council of Deputies, Le Mamea Ropati to the church’s recent urgent meeting, he noted the increase of offering by $281,000 for 2019 compared to 2018. 

The C.C.C.S. reportedly received a total of $13.4 million in its offering [taulaga Samoa] for 2019 from congregations in Samoa and overseas compared to $13.19 million in 2018. 

“That is the error to say that it has struck the church’s finances but in fact I believe that COVID has not affected the church’s financial state,” said Rev. Taufao. 

“The treasurer’s report is a precautionary measure advising the church in case the pandemic might cause some financial problems. 

“So the Observer saying that COVID-19 has struck C.C.C.S. when in fact the pandemic is striking our finances upwards…”

In relation to the article citing the recommendation from the church’s treasurer to halt major work due to COVID-19, the Secretary General also claims it's wrong. 

He said the decision to halt major projects by the church was the outcome of the church’s previous resolution so they can focus on paying back their loan at the National Provident Fund. Rev. 

Taufao said the resolution was made way before the pandemic and COVID-19 is only pushing the church’s finances upwards and not downwards. 

In addition, he said the reason why maintenance work at the John Williams Building continued is because there were leakages and it needed to be repaired. 

He maintained that the church’s financial status is stable and COVID-19 has not affected it negatively but rather has a positive impact on the congregation. 

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