Samoa time shift creates Sabbath rift

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Samoan community leader and member of the church, Pa'u Fereti Puni, said the issue had turned the church into a joke. Photo / Lynda Feringa
Samoan community leader and member of the church, Pa'u Fereti Puni, said the issue had turned the church into a joke. Photo / Lynda Feringa

Divine intervention may be needed to help resolve a dilemma that has been brewing in Samoa - exactly which day is the Sabbath.

The Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church in the island nation has been arguing about its day of worship ever since the country changed its dates to coincide with New Zealand, in December 2011.

Because the country skipped Friday, many Seventh Day Adventist members argue that Sunday had now become the seventh day and therefore switched from going to church on their usual day of worship - Saturday - to Sunday.

The idea has effectively split the church and caused further grievances after a recent decision by the Pacific region's SDA leaders that members in Samoa should now worship on the "new Sabbath" - Sunday.

Samoan community leader and member of the church, Pa'u Fereti Puni, said the issue had turned the church into a joke.

"It's just ridiculous, it's really making a mockery of the church. The people who now say that the seventh day is Sunday - in their eyes, it's the real Saturday."

A paper written by Auckland Pastor Neone Okesene was submitted to church leaders last year. Mr Okesene wrote that the decision went against everything the church stood for.

"Could the [church leading body] continue to call itself by the name Seventh Day Adventist when it has clearly taken an action that contradicts the foundational teachings of the parent body?"

The Seventh Day Adventist's day of worship is based on the fourth commandment; to observe the (seventh) Sabbath day and to keep it holy.

Other church denominations in Samoa also regard Saturday as the seventh day. However, they worship on Sunday, the first day of the week in Samoa, in an acknowledgement of the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

- NZ Herald

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