Seventh-day Adventist World President Receives Appeal from Samoa
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.)
This issue is very simple when we initially approach it from God’s holy perspective. We must always be optomistic, while fully submitting our will to the leading of the Holy Spirit of God. I am totally convinced that the Holy Spirit of God will restrain our pride and overwhelm our views with the light of His truth, in every issue, when we yield our intellect to His divine omnipotence. This issue has brought about a divisive spirit in the body of Christ, which is an important aspect on this issue to be considered.
The names of the days were instituted later, by the papacy, but the numbers remain unaltered. The adjustment made was with the names of the days and not the numbers. With the new change made, the name Monday that was the 2nd day was moved back to replace the name Sunday to now become the 1st day. This replaced Saturday with the name Sunday for the 7th day, and Friday the 6th day is replaced by the name Saturday.
I can go on in this kindergarten format, but the one thing that is crystal clear is that the numbers of the days of the week remain unchanged. IN CONCLUSION; WITH THIS CHANGE, THE 7TH DAY IS NOW CALLED SUNDAY. WE MUST CONTINUE KEEPING THE SABBATH BY THE NUMBERS OF THE WEEKDAYS AND NOT BY THEIR NAMES. AFTER ALL IT WAS EVENING AND MORNING WAS THE 1ST DAY, EVE. AND MORN. WAS THE 2ND DAY AND ALL THE WAY TO THE 7THDAY HOLY UNTO THE LORD.
Hope this will shed light on this issue. We must be always willing to humble ourselves when we are enlightened and refined by the Holy Spirit of God. The enemy is throwing darts of separation and division our way, to perplex and confuse the Bride of Christ. Our only hope is a total dependence on the guidance of The Holy Spirit and The Holy Word. With love for the brethren.
Malo le Soifua Asoleiuga,
Praise the Lord for your thoughts but having read through paragraph two and three I am confused, so let me ask some questions to help me better understand your point of view.
I believe we both accept God’s Word as the ultimate inspired authority of God, and there are numerous references to when Jesus died, rested in death and was resurrected from the grave that clearly indicate the number of the day of the week that also underline their corresponding days, referred to as Friday, Saturday and Sunday:
In Mark 15:42 it says, “Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,”. This is the 6th-day of the week named Friday.
In Mathew 27:62 it says, “On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation,”. This is the 7th-Day of the week, The Sabbath-Day, named Saturday.
In Mathew 28:1 it says, “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn,…..”. This is the first-day of the week named Sunday.
Now as you say, “we must continue keeping the Sabbath by the numbers of the weekdays and not their names”. Why, as outlined above, would you only follow part of God’s Word and not all of it?
You also refer to “the adjustment made was with the names of the days and not the numbers”, so I presume you are referring to the calendar. If we follow the calendar that we universally use to tell us the year, month, day and date that also uses the international dateline to sync the calendar and time i.e. 24 hours, this ensures that world-time is coordinated globally, through a cycle of 24 hours, irrespective of where you are. So if you look at the calendar today, it is Saturday 21st July, the 7th-Day Sabbath. If you Google the World Time and look at any country in the world, you will find that at some point through the current cycle of 24 hours, no matter where you are, it is Saturday 21st July and it is the 7th-Day Sabbath.
Samoa also follow the same universal calendar as the rest of the world; which shows the year, month, day, date and 24 hour cycle, therefore, why would the Samoan Seventh-day Adventists not worship on the 21st July, the 7th-Day Sabbath Day? Why should they be made to recognize the 22nd July as the 7th-Day Sabbath? To do so is to recognize that the 1st-day of the week, Sunday, is the Sabbath-Day.
Referring back to God’s Word, it is clear that the 6th-day of the week is ‘preparation day’ named Friday, the 1st-day of the week named Sunday and the 7th-Day of the week is the Sabbath-Day, named Saturday, is found sandwiched between the 6th-day and 1st-day of the week; why would we ask the Samoan Seventh-day Adventist to worship on the 1st-day of the week, Sunday, which is neither found in God’s Word or maintained by the universal calendar we use today?
The Church, through the South Pacific Division leadership, advocating 7th-Day Sunday worship in Samoa as the true Sabbath, is apostasy. I wholeheartedly agree with you that we need to seek God’s wisdom and leadership and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to convict of the truth. That God’s Will, will prevail over man’s pride and foolishness, as there is many of our Samoan brethren Salvation at stake by causing them falsely, to adhere to 7th-Day Sunday worship. Do you think that this is what God intended according to His inspired Word?
Manuia le Sapati, Alofaaga ma vi’ia le Atua, ulalei
The issue in Samoa is pretty simple. Please see my reply to Allison for details.
I fully agree with you believer! Thanks for the Holy Spirit that guides you in this insight.This clearly shed light on the Samoan issue. God bless you
Thank you for your explanation.
However, I don’t see that the Samoan government has changed the names of the days. The names are actually attached to the numbers of the days — that is, Sunday is the first day, Monday is the second day, etc. And the government did not change that.
The Samoan government has moved the country across the date line, and that’s a time zone change, not a renaming of days. Usually a time zone change only makes a difference of an hour. However, when we cross the date line, it makes a 24-hour difference. So it is a little more dramatic.
It’s the same Sabbath on both sides of the dateline. Instead of the Sabbath coming to Samoa after making its way around the world, the Sabbath now comes to Samoa first.
I fully agree that “We must be always willing to humble ourselves when we are enlightened and refined by the Holy Spirit of God. … Our only hope is a total dependence on the guidance of The Holy Spirit and The Holy Word.”
Which day we keep as Sabbath doesn’t matter one bit if we do not have a spirit of humility and total dependence on our Creator God.
Since we live on a round world an international dateline isn’t really a man-made thing. It is a scientific reality.
But calling the 180th meridian the dateline is purely man-made and arbitrary. It isn’t even officially recognized as such in secular law. Islands in the Pacific have the legal option to line up with the countries they are most in connection with.
December 2011 the government in independent Samoa moved from the eastern side of the international dateline (where they were since 1892) back to the western side, where it was when Christianity first came to the Islands.
Now they were no longer the last on the globe (after America) to welcome the new day, but the first (like New Zealand).
The calendar did not change at all.
It was like being on a ship traveling from America to New Zealand.
They went to bed on 29 December and crossed the dateline at midnight, so when they woke the next morning it was 31 December, missing out on 30 December entirely.
It happens all the time when people travel across the dateline.
If a Pastor flies from America to New Zealand on Thursday, he will totally miss Friday and celebrate the Sabbath the very next day. (Saturday)
But it seems the church leadership on the Islands refused to accept the idea that they
crossed the dateline — at least in relation to the Sabbath.
Yet, it appears they have accepted the shift across in every other respect.
On Dec. 31 (Saturday) Samoan Adventists did not open for worship along with the rest of global Adventism.
They now worshipped on Jan. 1,8,15,22,29 (Sundays)
While global Adventism celebrated the Sabbath on
Dec. 31, Jan. 7, 14, 21, 28 (Saturdays)
I think this problem might be simpler to resolve than it is made out to be.
I spent 6 weeks last year working in the Kingdom of Tonga, just south of Samoa. I had a problem because the church was worshiping on Sunday and I only had sabbath off from work. Hence I could never meet with the church.
Many years ago as European explorers began to travel far, they found time was changing the further they went east or west. So the English decided to make standard time measured from London. They called it GMT. This defines time around the world today. But as a Bible believing person, I think God should make the decision, not man. He made Jerusalem the center of the world. All time should be measured east or west of Jerusalem, not London. This places Samoa and Tonga definitely on the side of New Zealand, not USA, beginning the new day, not ending the old day.
God is merciful on us, and He does not want us to be legalistic, but would we not want to please Him by getting this matter right?
I appreciate the time and attention that you have given to this matter. I believe it is even simpler than you have succeeded in making it. The date line, as we know it, was in existence (and had been deliberately adjusted by both the Philippines and Alaska) well before the 1884 invention of the meridians and GMT. Indeed, with a single, God-ordained weekly cycle on a round world, it must have been in development for a very long time.
If we do not accept the IDL as it has developed, but rather choose our own standard, such as either Jerusalem or the 180-degree meridian, then we must necessarily fall into the observance of either Friday or Sunday in some part(s) of the world. Personally, I do not believe that this is God’s will for us.
I agree that God did make Jerusalem the centre of the world, but I cannot find where He has ever commanded us to use it as a zero-degree reference point for our Sabbath observance, thus creating our own Adventist IDL, in opposition to the one endorsed by the world’s civil authorities — who are, as I understand it, appointed by God to act within their legitimate sphere (see Romans 13:1). Why not research what Ellen White had to say about Sabbath Keeping and the Date Line?
Because “the Sabbath was made for man,” I believe that “getting this matter right” means observing the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday everywhere in the world — placing the spiritual needs of our countrymen ahead of our own personal preferences and theories. After all, the Sabbath is supposed to be a sign, isn’t it? Can you see my point?
Nothwithstanding your point of view regarding the keeping of time, it is clear in God’s Word that Sabbath, Saturday, comes after preparation day, Friday and before the 1st day of the week, Sunday. It is also clear that the order of our keeping of time, is the universal calendar that the world follows e.g. the year, month and day. Today is the 7th-Day Sabbath on Saturday 18th August. As you state in your opening sentence, “I think this problem might be simpler to resolve than it is made out to be”, do you think that the Word of God can be any simplier than this? What is difficult to accept is how can Sunday 19th August, be the 7th-Day Sabbath? Why would the South Pacific Division and the Samoan Tokelau Mission force our Samoan brethren to worship on this day and not the 7th-Day Sabbath on 18th August Saturday, which the global Seventh-Day Church worship based on God’s Word?
It is true that people of God need to be assisted so that they can Go back to the normal day of worship ,that is Saturday. and i urge all people to Saturday the bible and this issue of the day is clear in the bible that the day of worship is Saturday and we need God to lead us so that we can understand WITHOUT HOLY SPIRIT WE WILL LOST BUT IF WE CAN LET God to lead us he will show us the way he is that Truth and truth is in him forever AMEN
…… I encourage everyone on this page to checkup on this site ……adventist.org.au ….. to understand the history of how this issue came about….. Its a lot of reading but you’ll come to an understanding…… God bless you all……
Thank you for your helpfulness.
Unhappily, the origin of the present problem is a rather sensitive matter. Regardless of the “side” on which we may now be finding ourselves, there are certain indisputable facts. Here are a few of them:
1) The currently official practice of Sunday observance among Seventh-day Adventists in Kiribati, Wallis/Futuna, and Samoa is consistent with the precedent set in Tonga since the 1890s, and the desire to be “consistent” with the Tonga precedent was at least a factor in the church leaders’ decisions in favour of Sunday keeping in those other island groups, including Samoa;
2) The day line has never been shifted or changed in relation to Tonga, so the SDA practice of Sunday observance there did not arise from any difficulty connected with any changes in the local reckoning of the weekly cycle; and
3) In spite of the fact that Tonga’s society was on the Asian week, our pioneer SDA missionaries (first arriving in 1895) chose to use the 180-degree meridian from Greenwich as a day line instead, at least for purposes of Sabbath keeping. Sunday keeping in Tonga was the result of that decision.
Those are the objective facts. From there, we have people with differing opinions in regard to what should have been done, and what ought to be done now.
My own study has led me to the firm conclusion that the 180-degree meridian has always been irrelevant to the day line, and that those pioneer SDA missionaries to Tonga made a big mistake in using that meridian as a private day line. I perceive that there are a number of exculpatory facts, which could help to explain how even good and honest missionaries could have made such a mistake. Among these are that:
1) They came from American society at a time of great ignorance concerning the day line (even today, North American ignorance regarding the IDL is a major impediment to solving this crisis);
2) The day line was in great flux, at the time. Strong American influence had already moved the governments of several island nations to shift the day line in the direction of the 180-degree meridian. Tonga was debating whether or not to follow suit. Had they done so, a near 180-degree meridian day line would have become a reality; and
3) The Tonga government had been established by the Wesleyan missionaries, as evidenced by the strictest of Sunday laws already being enshrined in Tonga’s constitution. All of this may have tended to lessen the respect of our Adventist pioneers for the Tonga government, and thus make it easier for them to disregard its legitimate authority.
Now that it is becoming more and more obvious that the original decision for Adventist Sunday keeping in Tonga was a mistake — and now that we are seeing its consequences in places such as Samoa — I believe that if our pioneers to Tonga were still among us, their concern for the Lord’s work and for the salvation of souls would move them to urge us to correct their original error humbly and promptly. I do not believe that it is any honour to our pioneer missionaries when we seek to perpetuate (and replicate) their mistakes.
GOD is good? im happy to ask you a question on this issue, do we specify the sabbath day by counting the number of days or by the name of days? help me im still confusing on this case. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
In response to your question, Alexander, I should have to say that neither option is a very complete or correct answer. At the end of Creation Week, God established a 7-day cycle, commanding all mankind to keep the 7th day holy to Him forever, and His people have kept that cycle unbroken ever since. For ages, numbers were used more or less exclusively for this purpose, while today the days of the week are generally given Roman names in order to keep them straight. It doesn’t matter which method is used, because each of the Roman names implies a number, and to this day each name remains a reliable indicator of its implied number. Thus, God’s original command to keep the 7th day holy, in today’s context, is a command to everywhere keep Saturday holy, albeit from sunset to sunset.
If the governments of the world had done something illegitimate, or contrary to God’s expressed commands, in renaming the days for instance, I can see that one might question whether or not Saturday is still necessarily the true Sabbath. However, God did not specify any location for the date line which His own Sabbath commandment had made necessary, but He evidently allowed it to develop “naturally,” or anthropologically, through the process of how mankind overspread the globe and the way in which the world as a whole was reintroduced to the 7-day week. Adjustments are still made, from time to time, in accordance with human needs and relationships. This does not violate the Sabbath commandment, because the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Thus, an intelligible and consistent witness, furthered by always observing the generally accepted Saturday as the Sabbath of Jehovah, becomes paramount to His honour, and the honour of His law.
In other words, it appears to be in God’s order to allow each society to choose its own relation to the so-called International Date Line, and to allow each society’s government to use its authority to impose order accordingly. Thus, in my view, to criticize a government for exercising its generally accepted right to move the date line, and to argue that Saturday in any place is consequently no longer the 7th day, is to oppose God’s system of order — not to mention nullifying our God-given message to the world by endorsing Sunday observance.
I realize that there is so much turmoil to God’s people who have kept SAturday , as the SAbbath in Western Samoa, just because the government changed a day. CAn’t the president of the Union
interveen. The Samoan mission president and their staff are not being fair to those who are keeping God’s true Sabbath, Saturday.
They are being locked out of the churches.
A concerned Western Samoan!!
The GC can solve the Samoan Sabbath Dilemma by recognizing that GMT/UTC is the source of confusion because it shifts the Central Sabbath Time by two zones from its correct location in the Middle East. If the GC recognizes the correct Central Sabbath Time zone then the correct Sabbath Date line shifts to the 150deg longitude line putting Samoa into the correct Sabbath time zone which is the same as that of Australia and New Zealand. God is wiser than human beings and located the date line in an area where this Sabbath confusion does not arise