Friday, November 15, 2013

Connections with the Methodist Church in Fiji

Rev Marion Gledhill (Deacon) and Rev Malcolm Gledhill (Minister of the Word) are retired Ministers in the Uniting Church in Australia. They are currently serving as volunteers through Uniting World with the Methodist Church in Fiji, based in Suva. They are assisting the church with practical and important tasks: developing a code of conduct and revising their constitution. Marion has had excellent contacts with the Deaconesses in Fiji during her stay, and with the students. The Methodist Church in Fiji is a partner church with the Uniting Church in Australia and it's great to see Marion and Malcolm contributing in as volunteers in furthering the mission and ministry of the Methodist Church in Fiji.

I was interested to read this article by Bruce Mullan (Uniting World), with a statement prepared by the Methodist Church in Fiji on the occasion of Fiji Day on October 10th, 2013. It gives a flavour of the church and the context in which Deaconesses serve.

Methodists call for justice on “Fiji Day”

In another signal of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma’s commitment to be part of the renewing of the nation of Fiji, the church has made a significant statement to the nation on “Fiji Day” which celebrates the forty-third anniversary of Fiji’s independence from Great Britain. Methodist Church President, Rev Dr Tuikilakila Waqairatu points out that liberation is a continuous action that requires people to recognise and respect differences in ethnicity, culture, ability and how faith is expressed.
This is the text of the statement:
The Methodist Church in Fiji wishes all Fijians a happy and blessed “Fiji Day”.
As we commemorate the forty-third anniversary of Fiji’s independence from Great Britain, it is important that we not only celebrate, but reflect on the life of our nation and pray for her future.
Methodist Church President Rev Dr Tuikilakila Wagairatu
“Fiji Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on the meanings of nationhood and independence,” said Methodist Church President, Rev. Dr. Tuikilakila Waqairatu.
“On October 10, 1970 we became independent from the British Colonial administration. However liberation is a continuous action. We need to liberate ourselves from oppressive structures that hold us back from reaching our full potential as human beings and as a nation of love, peace and tolerance.”
“A peaceful and prosperous Fiji will emerge as a result of a just and compassionate Fiji,” he added. “We must not only be a self sufficient nation, we must be a people who care for each other, share with each other and empower each other.”
“This means recognising and respecting our differences in ethnicity, culture, ability and how we express our faith, and focusing on our commonality as human beings, each created in the image and likeness of God and in our common desire to live in peace and fellowship with each other.”
Methodist Church General Secretary, Rev. Tevita Nawadra Banivanua, said that along with Fiji Day, the church would this week also be commemorating the anniversary of the arrival of the first Wesleyan Missionaries in Fiji.
“This year we will celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of Revs William Cross and David Cargil and their wives in Lakeba, Lau and the establishment of the Methodist Mission in Fiji on the 12th of October, 1835.”
“The arrival of the Good News in these islands 178 years ago ushered in a new age for the i-Taukei people and in the development of Fiji, through formal and vocational education, medical and social welfare missions. As a community of faith we know that the work begun back then still continues as we strive for personal and social holiness in Fiji.”
Rev. Banivanua added that the journey between this Fiji Day and the next would be an important one for our nation.
“As a faith community, we are guided by our theology and praxis. The people called Methodists in Fiji recognise that this nation needs leaders who empower the people rather than ruling them; who will maintain our unique identity in our unity in diversity and provide the platform for all Fijians to understand and engage with important issues for true independence which upholds dignity of all, human rights, freedom and peace.”
“As the national anthem is sung let us remember that it is essentially a prayer for God’s blessings on our islands and people. Let us sing it, pray it and live it out in our daily lives,” he said.
“May God continue to guide Fiji in the paths of righteousness, protect and bless Fiji and all her people with a just, compassionate and peaceful society.”

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