By Rev. Vavatau Taufao, General Secretary, CCCS
Our church is known as the Congregational Christian Church Samoa (CCCS) or Ekalesia Faapotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa (EFKS). We have the highest church membership in Samoa despite the decline recorded in the Samoa Census Report. We are known for missionary work during the missionary period when CCCS engaged itself in the “social redemption of humanity”, a vision based on the church’s understanding of God’s sovereignty. It saw the divine purpose of redemption not only in individual terms but also in corporate, social and political terms. Today we continue to look back at our stars, many of them were buried in foreign soil, but we praise the Lord for their courage. That legacy remains a motivating force in the nation’s idealism as well as in the church’s commitment to active social efforts.
CCCS has now changed the direction of its mission work to concentrate mostly on the local needs. These includes offering Biblical Education for all people, education for youth convicts, secular education, and others.
CCCS is one of the three main line churches in Samoa. Its office and operation is centered in Samoa with parishes in the Unite State main land, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. It traces its beginning to the arrival of missionaries in 1830 sent by the London Missionary Society (LMS). They were accompanied by missionary teachers from Tahiti and the Cook Island and a Samoan couple from Tonga. These were the people that eased the LMS effort for Samoa. Within a few years, virtually the whole of Samoa was converted to Christianity. A burning zeal for the gospel was engendered within the spirit of the newly converted nation. Huge numbers of CCCS members soon offered themselves for overseas mission work under the LMS and hence, the very reason CCCS joined CWM when established.
We have cherished many past contributions from CWM in our internal mission work for our own people. Funds from CWM were used in recovery efforts of the damages caused by the devastating tsunami that hit us in 2009. This included funding education of students at all levels from the most affected villages. We also take advantage of CWM programs such as the Mission Support Program which funded our EFKSTV. Our youth benefit a lot from the Face-to-Face and other CWM forums that they got chances to participate in. In addition, we receive missionaries from the Presbyterian Church of India under CWM, and they have made a great impact on CCCS mission for circular education. Apart from this direct connection to CWM via member churches, we also continue partnership with EKT in Tuvalu and SFKAS in American Samoa.
MISSION PROGRAMMES/MINISTRIES OF CCCS
There are seven recognised mission work that we are engaged in:
(i) Training for Youth at Olomanu (Prison for youth) – Our mission here is to give troubled youths who have been convicted and imprisoned a chance to continue their education. The program costs the church more than $160,000 each year. We now have youths from this program working for the church office after serving their time. In addition, we preach the Gospel to these troubled youths through prayer meetings with them and creating skits on biblical stories where they can feel and become part of the reality of biblical events. These merged them well back to their communities and families as they get to perform in front of them. Like all our other mission programs, the main struggle we have here is the limited fund budgeted by the church.
(ii) Counseling Program for Inmates who are given chances for Parole – This is a joint program organized by the government where our Mission Office works in partnership with other bodies like Victim Support (NGO), Police Department (govt), National Council of Churches (NGO), and other Denominations’ representatives. Our function is to provide Biblical or Gospel teachings that aim to change the life of the inmates. The only struggle we have with this program is the shortage of staff because of limited budget allocation.
(iii) Theological Training for ALL – We offer everybody theological education. No matter what gender, age or denomination, we accept everybody. The program is funded by the church itself offering courses on Theology, Old & New Testament, Church History, and World Religion. CCCS had commissioned its Theological College with this program. Fees paid by the students are quite minimal compared to fees paid by students enrolled in our Theological College at Malua (MTC) and all schools in Samoa.
(iv) Disaster Awareness & Preparedness – CCCS applied for funds from CWM to establish a radio but later saw that a TV station would be more effective and now TV EFKS has run full swing since 2013. The main purpose is to prepare our people for future disasters and effects of climate change.
(v) Secular Education & Post Secondary Education Training (PSET) Provider – This is the oldest and the most expensive mission program CCCS is engaged with. It started in the late 1800 with one college and a primary school. We now have five well-established colleges running. CCCS set up these schools to cater for those that cannot enter government schools because of poor achievement at the primary level. In 1985, we set up a School of Fine Art (SFA) as a promising next step for our students that do not make the National University of Samoa (NUS) and this has grown successfully.
(vi) Theological Education – Malua Theological College (MTC) started in 1844 and has remained an important part of CCCS mission work in providing theological education. Establishment had gone as far as offering bachelor degree programs and offering post graduate studies is now in the pipeline for a very near future. Funding is provided by the church itself and it is becoming quite expensive.
(vii) Christian Teachings – Providing Christian teaching for youth and children is a very important part of our mission work. We have a department, made up of MTC graduates and a few women, whose functions are to:
• Produce teaching materials and aids for those who work in the ministry.
• Prepare and deliver sessions for church districts.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
• Plans – For CCCS planning is not so easy as it has to go through protocols which are quite lengthy. As the General Secretary, however, I would like to see the inclusion of the following towards better and safer lifestyle for all:
– encouragement of active participation of youths
– more involvement of females in the ministry
– louder voice and firm stand against corruption in the government and society
– active involvement in designing solutions for climate change effects
My main concern for CCCS is the unrevised hierarchy it followed since its beginning. With the Samoan concept of “respect”, I personally feel that such structure must be revised so our operation can make sense with the present flow of the tide.
I humbly request to include the following for CCCS and Samoa in your prayers:
– prophetic voice of the church to be bold and loud.
– Samoan government to say no to deep sea mining
– protection of our people from the invasion of foreign businesses
– protection of the church from the lust of our government’s unnecessary developments
– protection of our children and people from the effect of technologies