NATION

Methodist Church AGM Called Off

President of the Methodist Church, Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa said the decision was made a week ago in light of the economic situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
17 May 2020 13:44
Methodist Church AGM Called Off
The Centenary Methodist Church Suva.

The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma has called off its annual conference and will not fundraise this year.

The annual conference brings Methodists from all over Fiji mainly to Suva and has been known to raise in excess of $3 million. The funds raised by the church, are distributed for its operational costs.

President of the Methodist Church, Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa said the decision was made a week ago in light of the economic situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fiji is not the only country; everyone in the world is facing the same issue, every religious group is facing the same thing,” he said.

“These are testing times and such tests will make us stronger.”

Mr Vakadewavosa said Methodists have been in Fiji since 1835 and had a solid foundation which enabled it to carry out its operation, which includes running its institutions and paying the salaries and wages of its staff and priests.

How other religious organisations are surviving

The Fiji Sanatam Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji said closed temples derive their income, from donations from devotees for their temple and priests.

“Temple income has been affected as people do not come to worship as a result of COVID-19 restrictions This in turn results in some temples not being able to keep up with the upkeep and maintenance works,” Pundit Vigyan Sharma said.

“For example, a temple in Nawanawa Road in Nadera is closed. It has its expenses like electricity, cutting grass and regular clean up, but income is not there.”

Mr Sharma said Hindu priests have been told not to perform prayers at people’s residences, as well, because of the COVID-19 restrictions.

Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji said the religious organisation was more reliant on its commercial properties which generate income. President Kamlesh Arya said with COVID-19, everyone has been faced with economic hardships and this has in turn affected religious organisations.

Mr Arya said the tenant of their property in Tavua, Kasabias, had moved out. He added the organisation was adequately funded to run its operations. He said the reduced cash flow would impact the charity work done by Arya Samaj.

Ramadan tithe affected

Fiji Muslim League president Hafizud Dean Khan said the holy month of Ramadan was when the organisation collected most of its money through the tithe of Zakar.

He said its members were spread all over the world, but the impact of the pandemic had hit every pocket, meaning contributions would become lower.

Mr Khan said as mosques remain closed, commercial activity which raises money for the staff, religious teachers, hostels and vocational schools had been affected.

He said the Fiji Muslim League had asked members to send money directly to them.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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