27 Aug 2013

Church constitution under review in Fiji

5:10 pm on 27 August 2013

The Methodist Church in Fiji's annual Conference began this week, with the review of the church's current constitution a main discussion point.

Its newly inducted president, Tuikilakila Waqairatu, outlined his vision for a healthy church in his opening address.

The church's secretary for communication, Reverend James Bhagwan, says key areas highlighted include ensuring people do not excessively consume kava, and the review of the constitution of the church.

He says the church also aims to have better engagement with other church groups and religions and to promote harmony towards the different races of Fiji.

JAMES BHAGWAN: These are the issues that they're looking at. It's based on pillars of salvation, of education, of family, moving towards better stewardship of the church's assets, but also better stewardship of creation in terms of moving towards seeing a green church that has engagement with those of other church groups, as well as other races and religions, and to promote harmony amongst the different races of Fiji. So that is what we're moving towards and this is something that the newly installed president of the Methodist Church, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, has set as his platform for the next two years of his leadership.

LEILANI MOMOISEA: A lot of emphasis on living in a pluralistic society?

JAMES BHAGWAN: Exactly. Fiji is known as the melting pot of the South-West Pacific or the Pacific Islands. We have many races, many different religious groups. Often in the past, although the Methodist Church historically, not just in Fiji, but around the world, has also stood for inclusivity and respect and tolerance for those who are different, the other, and the practise of loving your neighbour, unfortunately in the past, in Fiji, this has not been the case. So the president of the church and the leaders have decided to make this one of their priorities, going back to something that is the traditional path of the Methodist Church and a very important thing for the largest church in Fiji. The president has just made his opening address and declared the conference open and in that process he outlined his vision for a healthy church. One of the key areas for us in Fiji is ensuring there is not excessive use or excessive consumption of kava, so this is one of his key areas to look at, but also highlighting some of the issues that will be discussed. Of note will be the review of our current constitution, the constitution of the church, which has been in existence since 1984. Currently because of changing times and the changing work of the church it needs to be revised, so that will be discussed, along with the new connectional speech plan for the church and other projects that it's working on. So those are the major highlights of the conference.

Reverend James Bhagwan said although they had asked permission to hold the conference over two weeks, they have been allowed four days.