22 May 2013

Erring Tonga clergy to be held to account

1:48 pm on 22 May 2013

One of the leaders of the Free Wesleyan Church in Tonga says pastors allegedly found to have been misappropriating thousands of dollars in church funds will be held to account.

The eight, one pastor from Eu'a, one from Vava'u and the others from Nuku'alofa remain with their parishes but on suspended duties.

Auditors reported a total of more than half a million paanga, or 344,000 US dollars, is missing from church accounts.

The director of clergy says when this was discovered, he approached each of the pastors individually, but all denied taking the money.

The Reverend Dr Mohenoa Puloka says with at least one case dating back to 2005, it is so disappointing.

"Part of my reason for doing this now, is that part of it is that it's my moral responsibility. Also to acknowledge the fact that we have to respect the people. It's their money that were entrusted to these clergy and they were not doing a good job on that so we have to do that. Over all our years this is a big shakeup in the church."

The Reverend Dr Mohenoa Puloka says the eight face disciplinary action at a hearing with the clergy synod during next month's church conference.