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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 28) – It was Faka-Sepitema today, for hundreds of female lay preachers of the Church of Tonga and other Wesleyan churches who, dressed in white, gathered for their annual roll calls.

The Faka-Sepitema is a special day in September when women lay preachers of the Wesleyan Church and also their break away churches gather at their churches to answer their call by simply saying "I am present".

Unlike all the other churches who meet individually, the Church of Tonga women lay preachers from throughout Tongatapu come to Kilikali in central Nuku'alofa to answer their call together.

The occasion is special for these women in white, and unusually on this occasion, they do not have to wear a traditional ta'ovala, or waist mat.

Matelita, a lay preacher, said, "it renews our vows, and our presence here today says that we want to continue to work for the church."

The roll call was led by the President of the Church, Rev Tevita Feke Mafi, and he was assisted by other church ministers.

Rev. Latu, said that the Faka-Sepitema, "is one time of the year when these women lay preachers come together and hold a meeting discussing issues from scripture to Sunday school matters."

[PIR editor’s note: The Wesleyan Church, formally known as The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, has Methodist roots dating back to the 1800s, and is now the largest religious group in the Kingdom of Tonga.]

September 29, 2005

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