Samoa Congregational Church Proposes Customary Gift Ban

admin's picture

Traditional obligations ‘cause people to struggle’: minister

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 22, 2013) – Church ministers in Samoa yesterday made an historic call for a ban on taiga sua – traditional gift giving – as Samoa faces continued concern about poverty and recession.

"Traditional gifts should be banned," an elder minister told delegates at the annual conference of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS).

This "is the very reason that causes people to struggle," he says.

Hundreds of delegates including reverends, committee members and church goers discussed the need to put a stop to traditional gifts being given to ministers during fa’alavelave.

Under fa’alavelave custom, family and friends are expected to donate money, food, clothing and artifacts during a wedding, funeral or other significant occasions.

This is on top of regular tithes, with some church goers donating up to half of their income.

CCCS is one of the country’s largest faiths.

We should stop taiga sua to avoid the heavy burden on people, said an elder minister. "If we take these gifts off we would feel a lot cooler and relaxed."

Traditional gift giving as part of church gatherings is a factor forcing people into poverty and church ministers should take the lead in discouraging this practice, he said.

Another Reverend supported this idea.

He reminded the church leaders of their role in taking the lead by example.

"Let it not be us that encourage this… there should be no more traditional gifts. We should lighten the burden on our traditional notions."

Talk of the ban follows controversy between government and the opposition about whether or not Samoa is showing signs of recession and poverty.

Other issues that were debated at the annual conference was the traditional tattoo known as tatau.

In the discussion on Monday, most participants were opposed to the idea of ministers following the increasingly popular practice of getting a traditional tattoo.

Another elder Minister said the ban on tattoo should also apply to members who are assisting and preparing to become Ministers.

The theme for this year’s conference is "Be still and know that I am God."

A third minister said that the number of people attending the conference is declining.

Many church followers have turned to other denominations in fear of heavy financial obligations and other demands from the church, he said.

The conference is a week-long event. The majority of the church-goers are locals while the other portion from New Zealand, Australia, United States, Pagopago and a few from Hawaii. The conference continues today.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment