The Steering Committee of the Samoa Saturday Sabbath Keepers (SSSK) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samoa met for the first time on September 30, 2012.
This Steering Committee, through its authorized officers, will be the official collective voice of the SSSK with regards to communications and dialogue with the Samoa-Tokelau Mission (STM), Trans-Pacific Union Mission (TPUM), the South Pacific Division (SPD), the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) and others in relation to the current Sabbath dilemma in Samoa and related issues.
The collective name and identity for members of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Samoa who keep Saturday as the seventh-day Sabbath will be ”Samoa Saturday Sabbath Keepers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” In Samoan, it is “Mafutaga Tausi Sapati Aso Toonai i Samoa a le Ekalesia Aso Fitu o le Toe Afio Mai.”
While the name may appear long, the committee wished to ensure that the identity of the Saturday Sabbath Keepers in Samoa is clear and unambiguous, including the fact that SSSK continue to be members of the official Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The steering committee was appointed by a general meeting of the SSSK on September 2, 2012, to steer the future course for the fellowship and to plan and organize activities for the collective good of its members.
This action was deemed necessary because the Samoa, American Samoa and Tokelau Mission (STM) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has formally abandoned and refused to provide any pastoral or other church related services to the SSSK who are also members of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church of which STM is a part.
The Steering Committee declared the purpose of the SSSK to be “To demonstrate our love and respect for God by obeying all His instructions including the Sabbath on the 7th day of the week from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. In addition, to comply with the same instructions reiterated by the General Conference in Session as recorded in the Church Manual and in the Exposition of the Church’s Fundamental Beliefs authored by the General Conference.” STM has made clear that it cannot accept the SSSK choosing to continue to keep Saturday as the seventh-day Sabbath after the Samoa IDL re-alignment in December 2011, even though the seventh-day Sabbath is defined as being Saturday in the world-wide Seventh-day Adventist Church in its Church Manual. That Manual defined God’s Sabbath is on the 7th day of the week from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.
Chair person of the SSSK is Fuimaono Esera Rimoni, a former member of the executive committees for the Samoa Tokelau Mission (STM) for several years and most recently the committee which discussed the Sabbath issue in 2011. In the past he has also been a leading elder for the several SDA churches including Alafua, Togitogiga and Sapunaoa and currently the Lighthouse church, as well as a former representative in the world Seventh-day Adventist annual church council meetings. Before becoming a Seventh-day Adventist, he was a member of the LMS.
Fuimaono is also a retired accountant and former director of finance for the NZ government office which controlled affairs for Tokelau for 23 years. He holds five chief titles and tausi aiga, nuu and itumalo for over 40 years to date. Having been a commercial cattle farmer for over 40 years now, he remarks, with a twinkle in his eyes, “I can talk about animals and understand them maybe better than people.”
The SSSK’s mission statement is “To play our part to the best of our abilities to spread the Gospel (including God’s instructions concerning the Sabbath) to hasten His return so we can enjoy Heaven and the New Earth with our Almighty God.”
The Committee agreed on the goal of the SSSK to be “to assist to reunite all Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa in obeying God and the General Conference in Session by keeping God’s Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.”
Currently some members within the SSSK are raising the question of whether to become an independently registered entity. Thus far SSSK’s have been sending tithes and offerings to the STM in obedience to God’s instructions and SDA polices, but the local Mission leadership refuse to provide any pastoral and other church-related services. Furthermore, besides denying SSSK’s the use of Seventh-day Adventist churches, the STM, some local church pastors and a number of Sunday Sabbath keepers continue to take actions to frustrate the Saturday Sabbath Keepers from observing the Sabbath on Saturday.
In spite of the frustrations of the current situation, many Saturday Sabbath Keepers are cautious about being registered as an independent entity. They argue that more study and understanding is needed regarding the likely implications before such a collective decision is made. They advise patience and allowing time for dialogue with the Mission, Union, Division and General Conference as an official group with regards to the Sabbath dilemma in Samoa and related issues. Accordingly, the SSSK, will not be registered as an independent entity at this stage. They will continue to remain members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samoa.
The Committee was informed that a multi-cultural group will be formed, and the Steering Committee fully supports the establishment of this group for the benefit of those who do not understand Samoan or prefer to be members of this group through which they serve and worship God.
A group of about 40 or so adults and children from the Salelavalu Mission church in Savai’i made a stand for God’s Sabbath (Saturday, the 7th day of the week), left the Mission Church a couple of months ago and joined the SSSKs in Savai’i for a few weeks. The group then moved on to join the Samoan Independent Seventh-day Adventist Church (SISDAC) which also keeps the Sabbath on Saturday.
Apart from this occurrence, each of the leaders from the three (3) centers (Pu’apu’a, Samatau and Lighthouse) reported that notwithstanding the tough challenges their respective centers continue to encounter from time to time, their members have remained faithful to Sabbath keeping and have stayed loyal to the cause.
No one is known to have abandoned keeping the Sabbath on Saturday and returned to worship on Sunday. To the contrary, new persons join the SSSK almost every Sabbath, particularly at the Lighthouse. There were also additions to the Samatau group in September.Mission Church a couple of months ago and joined the SSSK’s in Savai’i for a few weeks. The group then moved on to join the Samoan Independent Seventh-day Adventist Church (SISDAC) which also keeps the Sabbath on Saturday. Apart from this occurrence, each of the leaders from the three centers (Pu’apu’a, Samatau and Lighthouse) reported that, notwithstanding the tough challenges their respective centers continue to encounter from time to time, their members have remained faithful to Sabbath keeping and have stayed loyal to the cause.
All official releases and communications from the Steering Committee (representing all SSSK in the SDA Church) will be from Emoni T Tesese and Fuaoa Tia Collins (Communication Officers) in consultation with the Chairperson (Fuimaono E Rimoni).
This report has been adapted from an official release by Emoni T Tesese.