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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (October 4, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---The Evangelical Church of French Polynesia is facing rebellion within its ranks as a growing number of its followers are refusing to accept recent instructions to replace bread by coconut heart and wine by coconut water in the conducting of Holy Communion.

Disciples of Papetoai Church, on Moorea, last month went to the extent of boycotting the official mass and celebrating it instead at a friend's place, where two baptisms and a regular mass took place.

The row stems from a recent decision made by the Evangelical Church's chair to forbid a father, Henri Kelly, to celebrate mass because of his interpretation differences.

Kelly had openly refused the church's official new stance.

Papetoai churchgoers have been in more or less open conflict with the Evangelical Church of French Polynesia's executive office for the past three years.

The new instruction, which was determined by the church's governing body, purports to inject a more "maohi" flavor to the Holy Communion ritual.

Papetoai Church members, last July, collected 430 signatures on a petition against the move, and later set up their own association, headed by Firipi Teihotaata, a former member of the executive office.

They claimed the right to use the church to celebrate mass as they wish, the old-fashioned way, pointing out that the land on which the temple was built was theirs.

A recent court decision on the matter invalidated their ownership claim.

Some months back, a similar incident occurred in the Leeward group (north of Tahiti), when a temple's doors were welded shut by angry members.

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at 

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