Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma in mourning

Rev. Dr. Tuikilakila Waqairatu

Rev. Dr. Tuikilakila Waqairatu, President of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, died suddenly on February 11th, 2014. He was 66 years old. He had been admitted to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva two days before he passed away. 
Rev. Dr. Tuikilakila Waqairatu was a former General Secretary of the Church, and commenced his term as President in mid-2012 and was inducted as President at the 2013 Methodist Conference in Suva. His leadership was offered during a time of tension between politics, culture and the church. He was deprived of office by the military for many years, and suffered at the hands of government charges about holding an illegal meeting of Standing Committee.
He has been described as one of the Pacific church’s great leaders and had been guiding the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma in a remarkable process of reconciliation and renewal. He was committed to reform in the church so it would be faithful to the Gospel and alert to changes happening in Fiji and across the Pacific. 
Rev Waqairatu was recently quoted as saying, “There have been mistakes in the past and we have not remained abreast with the changes, we have not evolved but it is time to change.”
The late President was also an audacious advocate for the place of women in the church and society and at the 2013 Conference challenged ministers to treat their wives with respect.  “They think they have been called to serve while their wives are just there to cook, clean and do other domestic duties,” he said.
He said that wives of pastors represented the women in the church and more should be done to help build women’s relationship within the church.  He encouraged the pastors of the church to look after their wives and build a strong equal relationship.
This year sees the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma celebrating the 50th anniversary of becoming an independent conference. In a symbol of his humility Rev Waqairatu had planned to celebrate the anniversary by washing the feet of the superintendent ministers and lay leaders of the Church’s 55 divisions.  He was intending to ask these leaders to go back to their divisions and continue the process until every church had held a washing of the feet, as a sign of humility, servant hood and seeking forgiveness.We extend our prayers and thoughts to the church in Fiji, and offer deep condolences to Rev. Dr. Tuikilakila Waqairatu;s family. We also hold in prayer the Deaconesses in Fiji and Rotuma. 

A prayer for the Church and Rev Waqairatu's family

Creator God  and Lover of all people, we thank you for the late President of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotoma, the Rev. Dr. Tuikilakila Waqairatu who kept the faith and made witness for Christ; championing reconciliation; upholding the truth, resisting evil and laboring for freedom, justice with love. Grant that his commitment and devotion may bring bounteous fruits in the church and society of Fiji and in this generation and generations to come.
Comfort, O Lord, all who mourn for the loss of those near and dear to them; especially the spouse of the late President of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, Jioana and the only daughter Salote.  Be with them in their sorrow; give them faith to look beyond the present trouble, to know that neither life nor death can separate them from your love that is in Jesus Christ.
Bestow, O Lord your heavenly grace upon all who are called to be fellow-workers with you, your church in Fiji and in the world, that by our witness Christ may be lifted up in every land and all people may be drawn to Him. In time of such a tragic loss, and weariness cheer us with your presence; in disappointment give us patience, in the press of affairs keep our spirits fresh;  in success keep us humble of hearts; in failure strengthen us to persevere. Make your people joyful in service and at all times, deepen our sense of dependence on you and give us peace in your Service; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

A statement from the Fiji Council of Churches

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