Aug 25, 2011

Hark the Death throes of the Methodist Church in Fiji

Today is yet another sad day in Fiji's history - the day the current Methodist Church leadership in Fiji decided to take the Gold Medal at Fiji's greatest Lamusonas' Awards and rolled over like pitiful little sheep to be slaughtered at the alter of the tevoro.

Today also a correspondent emailed me this submission that the Rev Koroi had written way back in 2006. Unbelievably it is addressed specifically to the same culprits that have allowed themselves to be dictated to and rolled over today. It makes compelling reading for it's relevance to this organisation that is surely quite dead but knows not that it is dead.

Paper addressed to :

President Elect : Rev. L Ratabacaca,
G/S : Rev. A Tugaue
Assistant G/S : Rev. T. Waqairatu


By Rev J.F. Koroi August 2006 on the occasion of The “42nd” Fiji Methodist Annual Conference

I speak to the Methodist Church in Fiji as a concerned Christian , and retired President of the Methodist Church in Fiji (1987-1989). In his address to the 12th World Methodist Conference - Denver Colorado 1971 on the topic : “The “NOW” CONCERNS ON CHURCH AND RACE”; Dr. John J. Akar, Attorney for Prosecution of Sierra Leone said:
“All too often, Christians restrict their christianity to the four walls of their church and to the Sunday services only. Some feel that there is no place in politics for Christianity. I disagree. The principles which our Saviour and Master, Jesus Christ, shared with his flock, have as much relevance in politics today, tomorrow, and all times, as they did in His time. And because life is meaningless without principles, that is why I have resigned, I have no regret at all”.
In my observation, “Leadership” in the Methodist Church in Fiji is weak and lethargic.

The clergy in leadership are afraid to take a stand.

They are no longer fearless apostles as of old.

The pulpit has been used from time to time to play up to the idiosyncratic excesses of despotic political leadership, drunk with power, possessed of self-exaltation rather than take a stand.

They neither stand up, nor are they counted.

To that extent the Methodist Church in Fiji by assuming a see - nothing, hear - nothing, and say - nothing attitude is nothing, and has alienated the Fijian intelligentsia and reduced itself to nothing more than a Sunday fashion and a decorative masquerade.

The clergy, I regret to say are neither objects nor shadows; they are nothing; they fear the blinding light of truth and honesty which alone will reveal the magnificence of their presence and cast an inspiring shadow on the conscience of the nation.

The Methodist Church today in all of Fiji is fast becoming, or has allowed itself to reduced to an “irreverent” and “irrelevant” economical social club. No group of people within the Church is more aware of this than the Youth. That is why they are moving away and the Church attendance will continue to dwindle.

I must also admit, though that there are exceptions. There are the lone powerful voices of an extremely small band of dedicated “individuals” shouting in the wilderness of despair. The echo of their ministry will reverberate through out the pages of history. They are few and far between; but they are made of same genuine substance as the original apostles. Because of them, the Methodist Church in Fiji is halting but has not halted. Because of them the dying Methodist Church in Fiji has not died. And thank God, because of them, there is yet hope. But isn’t it fast becoming a dying hope?

If the Church is to be relevant and to be meaningful as Christians, then we must be brutally frank and honest, with ourselves and with our traditional institutions.

The Church in Fiji (Methodist) is incapable today of provoking social consciousness because it has been muted by its self-interest, ineptitude and complacency.

The only thing that seems to sustain the Methodist Church in Fiji these days is “singing” and “fund-raising” festivals at its annual Conference and even that is of an appalling poor standard. Methodist Fijians do love to sing and Church hymns are endearing.

Transistor radios in particular and T.V. have made serious inroads and Church members need not go to Church now to enjoy good hymn singing or good Church service for that matter. A twist of the knob and the entire radio spectrum and T.V. channel is at his disposal.

What really is the function of the Methodist Church in Fiji?

Is it enough to say that it Baptises babies; officiates at weddings and buries the dead?

Is it worth sustaining an institution that does nothing more than perform routine orthodox functions?

And yet, I can see no way out of this impasse unless the clergy are prepared to follow the noble example of the Master and Lord Jesus Christ and lead rather than allowing themselves to be identified with unscrupulous traditional and political leaders.

Is it not true that the Fiji Methodist Church leaders mostly identified themselves with the status quo, the chiefly power structure, the imperialistic, and dictatorial authority?

Is it not true that Church leaders (ministers) reside in the most expensive and exclusive upper class homes only visited by members for special appointment - but never pay pastoral visitations to the flock in their homes?

The Methodist Church in Fiji was no better off in the old missionary days than today. In fact, in many ways it was worse. In one crucial area, which constitute my fundamental observation, the Methodist Church in Fiji allowed itself, whether by design or by accident, to be very culture oriented instead of Christ oriented. This is why the Fijian intelligentsia and/or nationalist finds incredible difficulty coming to terms with the true Christian Church in Fiji. It was and is Christian only in name and only our prayers and our concerns will jerk it out from its present tragic position.

There should be more to the Church than its architecture, however, beautiful and compelling aesthetically. It seemed to me that the Christian Church needs to come to terms now with itself. It seems to have forgotten the “Rock” upon which it was built. Its attention seems to have been perversely diverted into the acquisition of monetary Real Estate; of playing up to the pocket books of its affluent adherents; of preserving the status quo, of rejecting change and revolution which Jesus Christ preached and practised.

If the Church does not know itself, does not rediscover itself anew, it will have many sad lessons to learn, not the least its probable continuous rejection by more and more young people.

There will be no meaningful Christianity until the Church leaders begin to hate their own hypocrisy, their double standards, “racism”, “nationalism”, their impotence to fight against evil injustice, suppression, hatred cruelty and racial discrimination - asking from the depth of their being; how can one become a truly Christian Church?

Heaven cannot mean accepting injustice of the present because we know we have a home in the great beyond. Home is where we have been placed now, and to believe in Heaven is to refuse to accept hell on earth. This is one dimension of the future that the Church should not sacrifice. The Church must not scorn Christian hope, but affirm it. Hope must be related to the present, the individual ethnic community. All individual community should be both liberated and liberating. The Church is and should be “Christ existing as a community”. It not only proclaim the good news of freedom, but actively shares in the liberation of all forms of struggle. To preach the gospel today means confronting the world with the reality of Christian freedom.

Jesus took a definite stand. He was for the poor and not the rich; He was for the weak and against the strong. He must be where men are enslaved. To speak of Him is to speak of the liberation of the oppressed. He was and is the liberator par excellence whose very presence makes persons sell all that they have and follow Him.

Jesus is who He was and the Church must never lose sight of this.

The question of the Methodist Church and its role in the future deals with one’s faith, belief in himself and in his destiny.

Can the Methodist Church or, better still, can Christianity renew itself in terms of its original promise - namely, power over one’s destiny, love, brotherhood and eternal life? In that renewal lies the relevancy, meaningfulness, effectiveness, and the survival of the Christian Church and of Christianity.
Rev. Josateki F. Koroi

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