The Fiji church celebrated their 40th anniversary with a special church service in Suva on 29 June.
Attendance was 105, including members from all parts of the island nation, and six from overseas.
Eugene Panuve was MC for the day, and Frank Boyd was worship leader. Teisa Mataika, Mere Tora, and Alisi Panuve, all of whom were present at the first service in June 1979, shared testimonies of their Christian journeys, with many often-humorous references to the happenings in the congregation over the years.
The children’s choir and the youth choir presented items of special music. Fiji Pastor Isei Colati delivered announcements, and former Mission Director Rod Matthews made comments and gave a prayer over the Fiji church, past, present and future. Regional Director Dennis Richards’ sermon, from Revelation 3:7-13, centred on going through the doors of opportunity opened by God, and the service concluded with communion, introduced by Rex Morgan.
Beautiful flower arrangements were put together by Sarome Navuruvuru and Mere Tora, and the stage backdrop and decorations were prepared by Epeli Nakautoga and his team.
After the service the hall was transformed into a dining room and a hot “lovo” lunch was served, to the guitar and vocal accompaniment of Vasiti Nakautoga. As usual in Fiji, the food, prepared by outside caterers as well as the members, was abundant and delicious.
The ministers’ wives, Ruth Matthews, Sue Richards, Marilyn Morgan and Vasiti Colati joined in cutting the magnificent anniversary cake, and dessert was served. Local gifts of appreciation were presented to the visiting ministers for their work with the congregation over the years. Members eagerly observed as photos of church events over the years were shown on the big screen while lively fellowship continued throughout the afternoon.
Dennis Richards concluded the day with the announcement that a couple of days earlier some changes had been signed off at the Suva office of the church’s lawyers, Howards. Rod Matthews and Rex Morgan had retired from the Board and been replaced by new trustees, Isei Colati, James Panuve, Emily Boyd and Dennis Richards. The new board had immediately met and agreed to change the name of the church from WCG to GCI, and a new constitution is in the process of being finalised. This will give the church in Fiji a much greater measure of local autonomy than in the past.
A big “vinaka vakalevu” is due to the committee who organised the event, headed by Sofi Kainaimawi, and the many members who worked together to make the occasion such a great success.
Thanks to Eugene Panuve for the photos.