NEWS

New Church Leader Reveals Priorities

New president-elect of the Methodist Church, Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa, says he wants to address the membership decline. It is one of the issues he will focus on when he begins
22 Aug 2017 11:00
New Church Leader Reveals Priorities
From left: Methodist Church general secretary-elect Reverend Ili Vunisuwai, outgoing church president Reverend Tevita Banivanua, president-elect Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa and Reverend Ame Tugaue at the Bose Ko Viti on August 21, 2017. Photo: Fonua Talei

New president-elect of the Methodist Church, Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa, says he wants to address the membership decline.

It is one of the issues he will focus on when he begins his term in January next year.

While he did not give specific details, it is understood that the membership has dropped from 198,610 last year to 196,534 this year.

The decline has concerned the church hierarchy.

The other issues include domestic violence against women and children, climate change, education and restructuring of the church head office to reduce cost.

He said  at the church’s annual conference at the Centenary Church in Suva: “With regard to domestic violence, violence against women and children and girls those are very important issues that the church discusses now and again, and I’m very glad these people (Government reps) are coming to share with the church as we counter these issues in society.”

Outgoing president, Reverend Tevita Banivanua, in his final conference  address, said the rape and sexual offences recorded by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions last month, “is a reminder of just how far away from the Kingdom of God our Fijian society is.” He said there were 71 separate incidents of rape and sexual offences that included defilement and assault with intent to rape. He said while these statistics were worrying there was more disturbing news. Thirteen of the people charged were under the age of 18, he said.

Methodist Church general secretary-elect Reverend Ili Vunisuwai (left), and president-elect Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa in Suva on August 21, 2017. Photo: Fonua Talei

Methodist Church general secretary-elect Reverend Ili Vunisuwai (left), and president-elect Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa in Suva on August 21, 2017. Photo: Fonua Talei

Reverend Vakadewavosa paid tribute to Reverend Banivanua.

He said: “I am very sincere that I have taken over from a very credible master the current President of the Methodist of Fiji. He was one year ahead of me at PTC and I always see him with respect. I always admire his wisdom, vision and I have learnt a lot from him.”

He was the church’s general secretary. He polled 382 out of 744 votes.

The conference also elected Deputy General Secretary Reverend Ili Vunisuwai to replace Reverend Vakadewavosa as the new General Secretary.

Meanwhile, Reverend Banivanua mentioned that it had been a stressful task trying to keep the church afloat during financially stormy days. However,  he said the church was not a business but a community of faith called to do much with very little.

“About three-quarters of the Fijian population identifies as Christian in some sense.

“The stories of the Christian tradition are the stories of our culture, and the struggle over that interpretation is crucial to political and social life. In 21st century Fiji, the church is still a place where most Fijians come to think about the basic questions of life – including social and political life.”

The conference continues today.

New Methodists  donate $5000, refreshments and snacks for the members.

Pastor Vulaono extended an olive branch to the church by seeking the church’s forgiveness to free him and his congregation from any past grudges. 

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

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