No Endorsement Given to Samoa Church for Sunday Worship

The debate of which day is the ‘seventh day’ Sabbath in Samoa has taken on another twist with confirmation from the Seventh-day Adventist world headquarters in America, that there is no documented action by the General Conference endorsing or supporting the action of the Samoa SDA administration to change its Sabbath day of worship to Sunday.

The current Samoa Sabbath dilemma in fact has come about because the SDA leadership in Samoa and the Pacific region failed to accept that the Samoa government implemented a lawful and legitimate shift in the International Date Line, effectively moving Samoa to the same side as New Zealand and Australia for trading purposes.

While most Christian churches in Samoa also call Sunday the Sabbath, commemorating the day of Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week, Seventh-day Adventists keep the Sabbath on the ‘seventh day’ of the week, which is Saturday like everywhere in the world.

Samoa Tokelau Mission President Pr. Uili Solofa who is confirmed to take part in the 2 August meeting.

In order to facilitate the IDL adherence change, Samoa missed one day resulting in a ‘one off’ 6-day week. This experience is normal when crossing the IDL from the American to the Asian side. Friday 30th December 2011 in Samoa did not vanish into thin air as promoted by the local church administration whereby making Sunday 1st January 2012 the ‘seventh day’ of the weekly cycle in Samoa.

What happened in December 2011 was not a calendar change, nor was there any name change. What is confusing is the notion being promoted by the local administration and the South Pacific Division (SPD) regional office in Australia, “The practical result in terms of Sabbath keeping is that Sunday not Saturday has become the seventh day of the week.”

In fact, understanding which day is the ‘seventh day’ of the week is quite simple, contrary to a statement in a public notice from the Samoa Tokelau Mission that was published in the local Samoa Observer newspaper 1st July saying, “The subject of the change to the IDL and resulting implications for the weekly cycle and for Sabbath keeping is a complex one.”

Simply, Sunday is still the ‘first day’ of the week, and Saturday is still the ‘seventh day,’ both before and after the IDL change in Samoa, like everywhere else in the world.

In its presentation last year to promote Sunday Sabbath worship to Adventists in Samoa, the statement formulated by the SPD, that “the present practice of Sabbath keeping in the Pacific Islands around the dateline be maintained” was said to have been endorsed by the General Conference.

Pr. Neone Okesene (New Zealand) and Tapa’autasi Dr. Erika Puni (USA) also confirmed to take part in the upcoming meeting.

The statement refers to the current situation where SDA’s in Tonga, Kiribati and recently Wallis and Futuna worship on Sunday; the later countries due to the precedent set in Tonga.

With the confirmation that the General Conference did not endorse or support the change to Sunday worship in Samoa, nor endorsed or supported the view being promoted by the SPD of Sunday keeping for those Island States in the Pacific around the IDL, the motives behind the South Pacific Division’s actions to deliberately mislead is now being questioned.

The General Conference has since referred the Samoa Sabbath issue back to the Pacific regional office to be further discussed. A meeting is scheduled 2 August in Australia to be attended by senior Samoan ministers from Samoa, New Zealand and Australia and SPD executives with the hope of finding a way forward.

Today, church members from 21 Seventh-day Adventist churches around Samoa have returned to keeping the ‘seventh day’ Sabbath on Saturday, joining Adventists in American Samoa and the rest of the world.



No Endorsement Given to Samoa Church for Sunday Worship — 7 Comments

  1. My question is what would you do before if you flew on Friday from Samoa to Australia, crossing the old IDL? Would not you consider the time to be Sabbath when you crossed the line and wouldn’t you keep Sabbath when you landed in Australia? Moving the line uses the same principle. Sabbath is still the seventh day in the new week in Samoa.

    • The way to reckon days when crossing the IDL is to accept the day of the country in which one lands. When you fly in on Friday (western time) it is Sabbath when you land (eastern time). Hopefully arrangements have been made to honor the Sabbath hours that remain in the land in which you now are.

      It would not be wise to start keeping Sunday just because it wasn’t taken into consideration that one would land in an Eastern Hemisphere country on Sabbath and much of the Sabbath has been missed. One can’t simply project home time to some foreign country and call that the Sabbath.

      When we flew to Europe from Canada we lost a whole night. We arrived in the morning, while at home it was time to go to bed. But no amount of “thinking” changed the fact that it was morning in Europe, and while a few cat naps were in order, we still had to do the things of the day during the day as it was in Europe and wait for the European night to get our sleep.

      A person can’t project time from one part of the world to another part of the world and reason that is the correct time. One keeps the Sabbath as the sun brings it to that part of the world in its relation to the officially recognized dateline.

  2. What has happened since this meeting? What can I post on other sites regarding this situation? Especially to those who want to make it look like I am impugning the MEMBERS’ sincerity in keeping Sunday, when I am trying to show that the leaders are attempting to coerce their members…

    • Dear Teresa,

      My overall impression is that three things have happened:

      1) It appears the Sabbath issue in Samoa has been officially opened up again, with a Samoan pastors’ meeting (including pastors from inside and outside Samoa) to take place, and an international committee to re-examine the issue. Details regarding the nature and identity of this committee seem to be unclear, at this point.

      2) It appears that certain members of the Samoa Tokelau Mission executive have taken to making some highly questionable public statements, creating the impression that the Sabbath controversy is a thing of the past, and that the Church in the South Pacific has settled into Sunday observance with the blessing of the General Conference. So far, the General Conference president has declined to respond to these allegations.

      3) It has come to light that there is a small, but vibrant and rapidly growing, group of Sabbath keepers in Tonga. So, next time we hear it said that Seventh-day Adventists in Tonga keep Sunday, we may justly correct that to say: “Most Adventists in Tonga keep Sunday.”

      May God bless you in your efforts.

  3. I am happy to hear that there are some genuine Sabbath keepers in Tonga. When I visited there last, I had to keep the Sabbath in my hotel room. Next time I visit, I will know to seek out Adventists who keep the seventh-day Sabbath.

  4. Manuia le Sapati ma vi’ia le Atua. On today’s global calendar it says it is Saturday, 1st September. Though the timezones may differ on the time of day, the day/date remain constant and it is the Lord’s 7th-Day Sabbath.

    In God’s Word it says that the Sabbath Day is found after preparation day, Friday and before the 1st-day of the week, Sunday.

    If we love Jesus, He asks us to keep His commandments and be obedient and faithful to Him.

    Please remember in prayer the faithful Sabbath-keepers in Samoa as they obey God’s Word by keeping the Sabbath holy today, Saturday, 1st September, 2012.

    God’s blessing also be with the Sunday worshipers, and we also pray on their behalf that the Holy Spirit would open their hearts and minds to the true 7th-Day Sabbath, Saturday.

    God’s rich blessings with the leadership as well, that they may allow the Holy Spirit to guide them to the proper outcome ordained by God! Ulalei

  5. The Sabbath day remains the seventh day of the week. As Christ’s followers we need to be careful, and with prayer hold on to the truth. We want to be giving excuses about this issue, so we can do as we please. God created 7 days of which the 7th day he rested, sanctified & blessed it. Who is man to change the days saying the week is with 6 days? That is just the beginning, brothers and sisters in Christ, to mislead the church. What if other countries will bring in some changes due to some reasons? Will we say we should wait for the General conference to say something? I hope not. I believe each one will decide to obey God or worldly authorities. What if the General Conference gives its endorsement to the Samoa church for Sunday worship? Will that mean it’s right? The Bible says that in the church wolves will come in and we need to be watchful and prayerful so that we may not be misled. The Bible and the Bible alone has to be followed; God alone must be obeyed. May God strengthen the brethren in Samoa who are doing his will, and may He help those in a dilemma.

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