(Source: eventspolynesia.com) The current division in beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa over which day to observe the Sabbath has resulted in a request to the Samoa Government to use the Prayer House on Mt. Vaea for church service starting this Saturday morning. It is confirmed that the Government have granted the request by members of the SDA church who reside in Apia and the surrounding suburbs; in particular those that continues to observe the Sabbath on Saturdays in what was the practice of the church in Samoa spanning 120 years and remains true everywhere else in the world today (except Tonga for similar reason).
Lance and Merita Cutts said, “We are very thankful to the Prime Minister and the Government for accepting our request, also acknowledging the Constitution of Samoa which protects individual’s right to worship freely.”
The recent change in Samoa’s position to the International Dateline is central to the division of convictions of Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa, and also the beliefs of Samoans overseas. Recently a decision was made by the Samoa-Tokelau Mission to change the customary observance of the Sabbath on Saturdays being the seventh day of the week to Sunday starting 1st January this year. There is however a strong stand by some members of the church who disagree with the direction of the church leadership in Samoa in light of Samoa being on the same side as Australia and New Zealand where the Sabbath is observed on Saturday. Further concern was raised regarding the inaccuracy of the notion by the church in Samoa citing a change in the naming of days by the Samoa Government. In addition is the development of a new calendar by the SDA church in Samoa which has Monday as the first day of the week, ending on the Sabbath while omitting Sunday completely.
Last Sunday marked the first time Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa have worshiped on a Sunday with other denominations, with the exception of some members of the Samatau SDA church who continue to observe the Sabbath on Saturday. Matautia Enesi a member of the Kosena SDA Church at Matatufu confirmed that a request had been tabled by those wanting to observe the Sabbath on Saturdays at Matatufu to access the church on Saturdays for their service as in the case of the majority that are now worshiping on Sundays. Confirmation that the Government Prayer House will now be opened for worship this Saturday thus indicate a growing number of members who will continue to observe the Sabbath on Saturdays in Samoa.
According to Lance Cutts, “I visited the President of the church Pastor Uili Solofa assuring him that we have no intention to change religion or start up a new church. All our offerings and tithes will still come to the Samoa administration similar to the Samatau group’s intentions. Our only disagreement is with the church’s position to change the Sabbath day from the seventh day we continue to keep.” Lance Cutts went on to acknowledge the President of the church Pastor Solofa for the Christian attributes shown in supporting their request to Government to use the Prayer House, and also his blessing as head of the church.
Despite the flow of emotions that is affecting many members of the church and now dividing families, there is faith that darkness will come to pass. We only need to reflect on Samoa’s struggle for independence to realize that standing for one’s conviction is never easy.