GC2012: Pacific Islanders welcome new ministry plan

"Our kalia (canoe) has arrived and been welcomed," said the Rev. Sione Veikoso, hailing the passage by the United Methodist General Conference of a comprehensive plan for Pacific Islander ministry in the United States.

"Our canoe has been wandering around and now has a port," stated Veikoso, the chair of the denomination's Pacific Islander National Caucus of United Methodists and a California pastor. The plan, four years in development, sets up a structure comparable to United Methodist ministry plans for other racial/ethnic communities.

Many immigrant Pacific Islanders arrive in the United States as Methodists but do not always find quick entry into the U.S. church culture. The plan addresses this issue, and also how to incorporate the spiritual energy of Oceanic people into the church.

There are now some 70 United Methodist congregations composed primarily of Pacific Islanders in the United States. Members come primarily from Tongan, Samoan and Fijian backgrounds, but there are also U.S.-based populations from Guam, the Mariana Islands, Micronesia, Hawaii and Palau - a total of roughly 1.1 million people.

The Rev. Eddie Kelemeni, chair of the committee that prepared the plan, said it is essential for "the church to help Pacific Islanders to adjust to the new culture."

Monalisa Tuitahi, an attorney who helped to draft the plan, added that Pacific Islanders have significant "gifts and graces to share with the whole church. Faith runs deeply in our people; being a disciple of Jesus Christ is very important. We are now recognized in a tangible way and can help to enrich and strengthen the church and its mission."

Some of those gifts and graces are outlined in a report that accompanied the petition to establish the new ministry plan. "Pacific Islanders live out their faith consistent with a theology of abundance," the report says, "and this is an asset for the United Methodist connection as it struggles to meet overwhelming needs with scarce resources."

The report further says that a "system of mutuality that undergirds the Pacific Island culture and life plays an important role in ensuring that everyone participates in the work of building the ministry."

The plan was developed over a four-year period by a committee staffed by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, which will also administer the work of the new entity.

The denomination's general budget for the next four years includes $544,000 to fund the Comprehensive Plan for Pacific Island Ministries.

*Wright is an information consultant for the Board of Global Ministries in New York, N.Y.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Tampa, Fla., (813) 574-4837, through May; after May 4, Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470, [email protected].

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Conference
The North Texas Conference voted at its Sept. 19 annual meeting to submit legislation to General Conference 2021 that would begin the process of changing the church’s Cross and Flame insignia. Logo courtesy of United Methodist Communications.

Conference backs replacing Cross and Flame

North Texas Conference joins pastor in saying the insignia of The United Methodist Church is, inadvertently, racially insensitive.
Social Concerns
Since the Church’s inception, Methodists have been actively involved in social and political matters in order to build a more peaceful and just world. Graphic by Laurens Glass, United Methodist Communications.

Ask The UMC: Is The United Methodist Church involved in politics?

Can United Methodists be politically active? The Social Principles offer guidance about the interaction of church and politics.
Social Concerns
The coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges to the U.S. census this year. Robbinsville United Methodist Church is one of the churches trying to help make sure everyone counts. Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

Churches see census as part of their mission

United Methodists across the U.S. are helping hard-to-count people ‘come to their census.’ In doing so, they hope to strengthen their communities.