Elder Ted Wilson, General Conference President of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church has confirmed receiving a submission from members in Samoa against the controversial decision by the local church administration, changing their Sabbath day of worship from Saturday to Sunday in Samoa.
One of the biggest group is the Lighthouse with members from across Anoamaa to Tuamasaga. In a joint letter they wrote, “We steadfastly believe that the seventh day of the week in Samoa before and after the IDL shift is Saturday. The Samoa Government legitimately made the decision to return Samoa to the western side of the International Dateline (IDL) the night of December 29, 2011. Samoa is no longer on the East of the IDL; it is now on the same side of the IDL with New Zealand and Australia.”
The Samatau group wrote, “The current confusion in the counting of days, we believe, stems from the Church’s failure to acknowledge and comply with a lawful and legitimate shift of the IDL. We have been ostracized and ridiculed by the local Mission for not keeping the Sabbath on Sunday.”
Members from Laulii who initially went with the directive of the Samoa administrators wrote, “We had doubts about keeping Sunday, (but) we believed, respected and obeyed our Church leaders in Samoa, hence our worshipping on Sunday. With clarification and enlightenment, we finally understood that God’s Sabbath is the seventh-day of the week, Saturday, anywhere in the world.”
The submission included letters from Fasitootai, Leauva’a, Saleimoa, Kosena in Matatufu and Solaua. All are requesting the head office of the SDA church in the world to thoroughly study the Sabbath situation in Samoa and reverse the action of the local administration so that members in Samoa continues to observe the seventh-day Sabbath on Saturday together with the rest of the church globally.
In a support letter from the Samoan Pastors Association Union in Australia, SPAUA President Pastor Samuelu Afamasaga wrote,
“There is general consensus amongst the Seventh-day Adventist Samoan ministers in Australia who are in support of our brothers and sisters in Samoa who continue to worship on Saturday as their true day of worship and Sabbath and also to voice their great concern of the negative impact of the recommendation / decision on our Samoans living in Australia.
“We are requesting the General Conference Biblical Institute to reconsider, revisit and reverse the decision made by the SPD BRC, TPUM and STM because it has caused more damage than good to the Church both in Samoa and the Samoan community in Australia. We are voicing our concern, specifically the negative impact of the decision on the 20 Samoan churches in Australia.”
In a letter of support from the Samoan Adventist Ministers Association of North America, SAMA Secretary Pastor Fred Toailoa wrote, “There is a grave concern among the majority of our Samoan ministers here in the US .…We do NOT support the recommendation made by the South Pacific Division for Samoa to worship on Sunday. It has divided congregations and families as well as created instability in the minds of our people especially the older generation who pioneered the Adventist work in Samoa causing some to continue worshiping on Saturdays. We strongly recommend that the SPD reverse their decision so that Samoa returns to worship on Saturday and be consistent with the world church.”
Today more and more members in Samoa are now returning to Sabbath keeping as they become enlightened that the Samoa Sabbath issue with the IDL change is not theological but a simple matter of anthropological and sociological understanding.
With the voice of discontent reaching the General Conference in America, the SDA church in Samoa and its members around the world now waits.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published at voxy.co.nz on June 23, 2012 and picked up by SamoanNews.com on July 2, 2012. It has been widely disseminated through discussion boards, blogs and Twitter. Apparently in response, Samoa-Tokelau Mission President Uili Solofa made a public statement published in the Samoa Oberver Online edition on Sunday, July 8, entitled “Church Defends Day of Worship.” (If the article is no longer online, you may download a screenshot here.)