Rev. Elder Reupena only implemented an overdue Queensland District decision, Court told

Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Elders Committee members Rev. Elder Tavita Roma (back) and Rev. Elder Tautiaga Senara leaving court

BY Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA: FRIDAY 19 FEBRUARY 2016: A decision made by the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) of the Queensland District in 2010, only came into effect 3 years later, when former member of the Queensland District Ministerial Sub- Committee Reverend Elder Kerita Reupena decided to execute that decision.

This was evidence presented in Court by Rev. Reupena when he was re-examined by his lawyer, Leuluaialii Olinda Woodroffe, in a lawsuit hearing against the CCCS Elders Committee and Ministerial Sub-Committee in Samoa.

The decision was for all Queensland District parishes to contribute at least AU$1000 to AU$2000 towards the purchase of a land in Australia for the church.

However, the decision was not well taken by the Southern Queensland parish who said the contribution was too high.

The Queensland District decided to buy land for the church, but there was no specific land in mind at the time the decision was made in 2010, but there was already a plan to fundraise for the land, which included contribution from church parishes.

So in 2013, parishes were told of the Queensland District Ministerial Sub-Committee’s decision.

During the defense cross examination, Rev. Reupena was drilled about making the decision himself.

According to Rev. Reupena, he only executed the decision already agreed upon and signed by members of the Queensland District Ministerial Sub- Committee, but when members of the Southern Queensland parish opposed the decision, trouble started.

It was this trouble that prompted a visit by the CCCS Sydney District Elder Rev. Elder Peleti Toailoa to try and talk things over with Rev. Elder Reupena, but that meeting never happened because Elder Reupena refused to meet with Rev. Elder Toailoa.

Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Sydney District member, Rev. Elder Peleti Toailoa

Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Sydney District member, Rev. Elder Peleti Toailoa

Asked why he refused to meet with Rev. Elder Toailoa, Rev.  Elder Reupena said they were not in good terms, and that there was nothing in the church constitution allowing another Elder to meddle with another district’s decision.

Rev. Elder Reupena later traveled to Sydney to apologize to Rev. Elder Toailoa for his behavior. He also took AU$2000 as a peace offering.
Asked how he felt after apologizing, he said he was “happy”.

In February 2014, a meeting with the church’s Elders Committee took place in Samoa where they were told about the decision to buy land for the church in Australia.

That decision was supposed to be tabled in that years’ annual general assembly of the church at Malua, but there was an application from Queensland District Ministerial Sub-Committee to hold off tabling the decision at the general assembly, because the Southern Queensland parish had objected to the plan of buying a land for the church in Australia.

It was also in March 2014 that the Southern Queensland parish informed the Ministerial Sub-Committee that they wanted to establish their own district.

When the matter was raised with the Elders Committee meeting in Samoa, Rev. Elder Reupena was asked to reconcile the church.  At the same meeting, Rev. Elder Reupena questioned one of the parishes in Savai’i, Sala’ilua parish loan approved by the church elders.

The Sala’ilua issue was heatedly debated by the general assembly past meetings and Rev. Elder Reupena believes, because he questioned Sala’ilua’s loan, the Elders Committee turned around and stripped him of all his church responsibilities. He told the Court that he heard the Elders talking about “penalizing me”.

The matter is now adjourned for lawyers’ final submissions next month.

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