Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Anglicans welcome Pacific churches

Archbishop Sione Ulu’ilakepa and the Diocese of Polynesia have welcomed the twenty-member Executive of the Pacific Conference of Churches’ to Suva this April for their first meeting since elections at the 12th General Assembly in Noumea, Kanaky New Caledonia last November.

Julanne Clarke-Morris  |  07 May 2024  |

The Diocese of Polynesia warmly has welcomed the Pacific Conference of Churches’ Executive to Suva in Fiji this April, hosting the group whose newly elected Deputy Moderator is the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia’s own Diocesan Registrar, Reverend Sepiuta Hala’api’api. 

Archbishop Sione Ulu’ilakepa joined diocesan leaders Dean Orisi Vuki and Principal of St John the Baptist College, the Rev Liliani Havili, to welcome the PCC Executive to their meeting held at The Diocesan Headquarters at the Moana Anglican Services and Training Centre in Suva from 17-19 April.

Rev Sepiuta Hala’api’api joined this April’s Executive meeting for her first time in her top ecumenical leadership role in the region’s Conference of Churches, following in the footsteps of earlier Anglican PCC leaders, former Deputy Moderator Rev Lola Koloamatangi and former PCC Moderators: Bishop Apimeleki Qiliho and the late Archbishop Jabez Bryce. 

Rev Sepiuta says one of the beauties of the Pacific churches’ work together is the prophetic role they play in recognizing and speaking out against injustices faced in Pacific communities.

She reports that the PCC Executive’s first gathering for 2024 focused on work flowing from its recent General Assembly, and on the PCC Secretariat’s main work areas of advocacy and practical programmes that advance:

– Ecological Stewardship and Climate Justice
– Safe Church (Just and Safe communities for women and men)
– Child, youth and women’s empowerment
– Ecumenical relations and cooperation
– Decolonisation and self-determination

One of the most important issues on the Pacific churches’ agenda, says Sepiuta, is their broad-based work to uphold human rights, and in particular backing Pacific Indigenous peoples’ movements for self-determination.

Care for Creation stands at the top of the Pacific churches’ agenda along with advocating justice for peoples suffering under colonial rule by French Polynesia and Indonesia.

“We speak out on ecological and climate justice in our Pasefika region and strongly support the moves towards self-determination in Kanaky, Maohi Nui and West Papua.”

The twenty-member PCC Executive, led by PCC Moderator, Elder Dr Leatulagi Faalevao of The Congregational Church of American Samoa, represents the PCC’s 35 churches from 11 National Councils of Churches (NCCs) across 18 Pacific countries between its four-yearly Assemblies. The Executive is also joined by ecumenical educators from Pacific Theological College (PTC) and the South Pacific Association of Theological Schools (SPATS).

Rev Sepiuta joins a smaller number of women than men who have been elected to the moderator roles over the years of PCC history.

“As a young, female ordained leader in this ecumenical leadership role, I am grateful to the member Churches of the PCC, including our Anglican Diocese, for their trust and confidence in seeing young women in key church leadership roles.” 

“I see this calling not as tokenism, nor as breaking ‘thatched ceilings’, but moreso a glimpse of what the Body of Christ looks like in our Pasefika region - becoming more intergenerational and gender balanced, more inclusive of communities that were once marginalized. This is an exciting time to be a part of the Church.” 

In June 2024 members of this Church’s three -Tikanga Council for Ecumenism will head to Suva to meet with the Pacific Council of Churches Secretariat and visit Pacific Theological College to talanoa and experience first hand ecumenism in the Pasefika context.