Member Church Feature: United Church in Solomon Islands (UCSI)

Introduction

  • The United Church in Solomon Islands has a current membership of 52,000 concentrating mainly in the Western part of Solomon Islands including Choiseul.
  • The United Church in Solomon Islands is heavily dependent on its members’ giving (tithes and offerings) to run its entire operations.
  • There are 3 congregations in Honiara City, the capital of Solomon Islands.
  • Kukum United Church Congregation, established in 1978, is part of the Honiara Circuit. It is the smallest congregation nicknamed as the “Church of the Retirees and the Unemployed”.
  • From the outset this depicts a Poor Church. However, this same Congregation is about to complete its SBD $1.6m ($FJ351,000) building for capacity building and income generating for the Church and its unemployed mothers – Kukum UC Youth and Women’s Mission Centre.

Brief History

The United Church in Solomon Islands (UCSI) was originally a part of the former United Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (UCPNGSI). UCSI found its origin from Methodism Mission in 1902, where the Australian Methodist Church which began missionary work in the Solomon Islands. The Methodists soon became the predominant denomination in that region, and together with the Papua Ekalesia and the Union Church in Port Moresby, formed the United Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands in 1968.

In 1996, the General Assembly of the United Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands resolved that the existence of one united church covering two independent countries should no longer be maintained. Thus, the United Church in Solomon Islands came into being as an autonomous church on its own.

Mission Programmes/Ministries of the Church

The Western Province of the Solomon Islands had been an area of concentration of the United Church with Aola on Guadalcanal as the only establishment further east. In the 1980s, the Church started spreading out to other parts of the country, including the capital Honiara.

Kukum United Church is spearheading the Mission work in the Solomon Islands UC – reaching out to our church members, and other unfortunate or disadvantaged people over the past years. They have conducted open air services/crusades, church visitations, family visitations, training and sending preachers out to communities in the rural and urban areas, community works, healing services, prison and hospital visitations, and so on over the past years until today.

During the 2007 tsunami which hit the Western and Choiseul Provinces of Solomon Islands, the Youth Fellowship organised in Choiseul and launched out in three boats and went around the affected communities helping in their clean up and rebuilding. The Women’s Fellowship also gathered their members across the UCSI and mobilised throughout the affected communities across the Western Province.

Another outreach effort was made during the April 2014 floods that affected our Capital Honiara and parts of Guadalcanal. After ascertaining that the affected Kukum congregation members were safe, Kukum UC began the “Mercy Mission”, a Programme to help victims where we:

  • Froze all congregation and organisational programmes and centralized all available funds for use in the rehabilitation of the flood victims.
  • Organised ourselves into working parties to help clean up mud and silt from victims’ homes in the day and in the evening for about two weeks, fed victims in one of the evacuation camps that held over five hundred evacuees. Then, our members gathered with PA systems, music instruments and worshipped together with the victims. After dinner we continued to sing together in choirs as different community members then shared the Word.
  • Gathered and supplied some sleeping mats and clothes. We would go out to affected areas outside of town to worship, drop food supplies, clean water and clothes, tools and utensils.
  • The approach Kukum applied for rehabilitation was holistic therefore socially, culturally and religiously credible and acceptable. It touched the hearts of the victims and quickly raised their level of resistance towards their mishap encouraging them to return to their destroyed homes to rebuild and make a new start.
  • The Mercy Mission continued as we helped them financially and worked alongside them on weekends during the community’s rebuilding process. These mission activities made us realise that true mission is “Having joy being serving Christians rather than served Christians”, helping all strangers in real need of help, not just our families and church members.

Challenges

The Solomon Islands is one of those countries that has been in CWM’s conversations, particularly with the challenging issue of climate change and its potentially dislocating and devastating impact on the people, their security and identity. There is damage done to the environment because of excessive logging. Natural disasters like the flooding in 2015 which claimed lives and left thousands of people in the Solomon Islands homeless only intensify the need for urgent action towards a more long-term and sustainable solution.

Prayer Requests:

Pray for the United Church in Solomon Islands as they are struggling with climate change and its dislocating and devastating impact.

Pray for the social institutions of the Church, such as schools and hospitals, to shine in the nation as they provide education and medical care respectively to the locals.

 

Sources:

Mission Stories shared by UCSI General Secretary during Members’ Mission Forum (Pacific Region) 2017
(Sundays with CWM. Working and Waiting with God. 2015 Pg 102)
(CWM, CWM Prayer Book “Pray without Ceasing” October to December 2014, Pg 88)
https://www.unitingworld.org.au/about/our-overseas-partners/the-pacific/the-united-church-in-solomon-islands Accessed 29 November 2017

 

2019-02-04T16:26:40+08:00