Church Pay Hike Call Lauded

Deaconesses have welcomed a call by the President of the Methodist Church to increase their pay. Reverend Tevita Banivanua yesterday called for a review of deaconesses’ stipend during the church’s
16 Aug 2016 10:39
Church Pay Hike Call Lauded
(sittiing from left) Administrator Deaconess Meresiana Kuricava,Senior Deaconess Salome Vunisuwai,Kelera Uarua,Senimili R. (standing from left) Mere V,Mere Finau,Miriama R,Unaisi Nalu at the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma annual conference yesterday.Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.

Deaconesses have welcomed a call by the President of the Methodist Church to increase their pay.

Reverend Tevita Banivanua yesterday called for a review of deaconesses’ stipend during the church’s annual conference, Bose ko Viti, at the Centenary Church in Suva.

An emotional Meresiana Kuricava, Administrator of the Deaconess Order, said the pay proposal was good news to all deaconesses in Fiji.

Deaconess Kuricava said every ordained deaconess when they were posted to an area they should be provided a house and stipend.

She said a deaconess on probation was paid around $3000 to $3500 per annum.

She said ordained deaconesses were paid around $3500 to $4000.

“It was up to stakeholders whether they want to increase the stipend,” Deaconess Kuricava said.

She said it was an attempt to bring about some pay parity in the church between them and ministers.

Ordained ministers earn $8000 a year. There is also a proposal to increase it to $10,000.

“It has been a long time that deaconesses have been underpaid,” Deaconess Kuricava said.

She said the functions of a deaconess and ministers were quite similar in some areas.

“There are some arrears which are specifically for ordained ministers like wedding, funerals, sacrament and baptism.

“As deaconesses we preach, teach and also minister the gospel, we also take up matron posts and scripture teachers in schools,” Deaconess Kuricava said.

She said there were currently more than 100 deaconesses within the Methodist Church.

Deaconess Kuricava said they also faced challenges in their area of work.

“Some of us receive our stipend after a month or three months, misunderstanding in the areas of our work and in which we need to look into our job description.

“Sometimes we are called into to carry out clerical work during school breaks even though our job description is only to look at the areas of religious education and spiritual lives of teachers and students.

“This is good news and I hope that the church will look into this area,” she said.

Reverend Banivanua said: “Our challenge is to support our daughters and sisters in Christ that feel the call to serve God and offer themselves to serve as ministers and deaconesses.

“To encourage our circuit and divisions to be open to receiving female ministers and deaconesses as ministry leaders in our local churches and not just chaplains for schools,” he said.

Reverend Banivanua, however, said that one outstanding issue that remained part and parcel of the equal status of ministers and deaconess – the equality in stipend that they received.

He said deaconesses only received half of what the ministers received.

“At last year’s conference, a proposal was given for a review of the ministers’ stipend – to have $10,000 as base for ordained ministers and $8,000 for as the base for probationers,” Reverend Banivanua said.

He said it would be discussed in the one- week meeting.

“It is my humble prayer that we will also resolve as one church that this base stipend be also applied to our deaconesses,” Reverend Banivanua said.

He said he had the pleasure of conducting the first ministerial session of conference under the new constitution of the church.

Reverend Banivanua said it was a historic event for the church as it was the first time “our sisters from the Deaconesses Order to be part of the event.”

He reminded church ministers to follow the cloud and not the crowd.

“This is also very important for our deaconesses and ministers, to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It should be a basic requirement of anyone called to ordained ministry and lay leadership or service,” Reverend Banivanua said.

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki














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