NEWS

Tension High in Tavua Row

Tension was high yesterday after a row broke out between two rival religious groups in Tavualevu Village, Tavua. Feelings became heated after one group, led by the newly installed Tui
03 Feb 2017 11:00
Tension High in Tavua Row
People outside the closed Methodist Church chapel at Tavualevu Village in Tavua on Wednesday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Tension was high yesterday after a row broke out between two rival religious groups in Tavualevu Village, Tavua.

Feelings became heated after one group, led by the newly installed Tui Tavua, Ratu Nacanieli Nauqeuqe, destroyed a religious monument in front of the Methodist Church chapel. The church responded by closing the chapel for prayers sessions.

Police confirmed they were keeping an eye over the standoff.

Roko Tui Ba Jese Volau, his deputies and Police officers from Tavua visited Ratu Nacanieli for consultations.

One group comprises members of the Methodist Church in the village. The rival group, which allegedly destroyed the monument consists of members of the Vakabula Vanua, (Healing the Land Ministry International) Church. They have gone into partnership with Ratu Nacanieli.  Methodist Church members in the village resented the partnership and closed their chapel to them.

Ratu Nacanieli said they destroyed the monument to cleanse the village from demonic influences.

The monument was built last year by the Methodist Church after a period of fast/prayer session.

This fast/prayer session is now being repeated but the Methodist Church did not join the inter-faith event.

Ratu Nacanieli said: “The monument was a wrong symbol and it was collection of all demonic stuff collected (ashes) from all the Tikina of Tavua and buried in my village,”

He said he therefore ordered its destruction.

Tavua Methodist Circuit steward, Apisalome Tovi, said the destruction of the monument had left a scar in the village.

“This is why the church wishes to close its doors. We need to resolve this in a traditional manner,” he said.

The President of the Methodist Church,  Reverend Tevita Banivanua, said he had been

briefed on what happened in Tavualevu.

“The congregation has reported the matter to the Police and the closure of the church and Tui Tavua was also advised,” he said.

“All the Methodist church remains the property of the Methodist. If any legal case is taken then the Methodist Church is liable to answer. The issue remains with those ministers based in Tavua.”

Reverend Banivanua added that there was a procedure to be followed if a non-Methodist wished to use the church. He said it had to be approved in a meeting of the circuit.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said, “We can confirm that there have been reports of tension rising from the alleged destruction of property within the village.”

“We are aware of the situation and our involvement is merely to ensure peace and everyone’s safety. This is all we can comment on right now as there is an ongoing investigation.” she said.

Edited by Maraia Vula

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