Friday, July 24, 2009

Repairing the power points

from Peceli,
Here are a few thoughts about the Methodist Church in Fiji.

Illustration of repairing the power wiring.

To begin with I must thank my golfer friend Lindsay Dixon for helping us by fixing the damaged power points in our house last Wednesday. My friend was able to come to investigate the power failures. We had to climb inside the roof and crawl about searching for the cause. It took 2 hours to find the problem, and it was not until we climbed on the top of the roof, took our a few roofing irons above the kitchen and then checked the electricity wiring where the plastic box was half burnt and melted. That was the cause of the problem.

Then from there the electrician set about to check and fix about fourteen power points and install a safety switch and this took another two hours. Lindsay said that the wiring was probably over fifty or sixty years old and had never been updated.

This is a parable perhaps. I would like to compare the checking the problems of electric power current flowing through the wires with the power of leadership of the Methodist Church in Fiji.

What is the current problem of the Methodist Church in Fiji at present?

Power points
1. The basic problem is that there is very old wiring, with no rewiring done in forty-five years ago when the Methodist became Independent in 1964, when Rev Setareki Tuilovoni was the first Fijian President.

Power point 2. The Constitution of the Fiji Methodist Church is very old and has to be updated to suit the modern times, though some parts were changed during Rev Paula Niukula’s time about the General secretary position.

Power point 3. Sometimes the load is in one place, top-heavy without a safety switch. Has Epworth House offices in Suva become the focus too much?

Power point 4. What has happened to the relationship with the parents Churches like Australia’s Uniting Church in Australia and New Zealand and their contributions toward Fiji?

Power point 4. The relationship of the Lotu with Vanua and the Traditional Chiefs in each area. Do we need to check who holds the power? Check who really ‘owns’ the Lotu - the Chiefs or particular individuals or the ordinary people.

Power point 5. Fiji Islands are prone to yearly hurricanes and earthquakes yet survive, and coups by strong people, but what do we do about it? Passively accept that this happens and just get along with our normal life to support our families?

How can these power points be fixed? What kind of people do we need in Fiji to fix the power points? Or just let the wires get heated up and damaged? We surely need to take action, install safety switches, and bring in the skilled people who are willing to crawl through the roof of a house to find and fix each damaged area, bit by bit. It is not an easy task, but necessary.

Prayers and fasting are good but are not enough. Action is needed. You do not just pray that your electrical problem is fixed. We need the expertise and people with the right skills to find the problems and set about fixing them. What do you think?


Andrew Thornley said...

Dear Peceli and Wendy,

These are very important questions that you pose and a real challenge for the Church in Fiji to consider.
Yes, there needs to be regular review of the constitution and in so doing the powers that have shifted to Epworth House can be reviewed.
The Uniting Church has recognised that it has allowed the relationship with Fiji to lag and that is being corrected under the leadership of Kerry Enright at Uniting World and his colleague with special responsibility for the Pacific - Bruce Mullan. I know that Kerry has been in regular touch with the Methodist Church leadership during the present crisis.
I have been pondering the problems facing the Methodist Church in Fiji. Their big issue is facing the question of legitimacy. If they believe that the present Interim Regime is legitimate and if the Regime is able to convince its people that it is indeed legitimate, then the Methodist Church has to be very careful about questioning the authority of the President and the Prime Minister. That is the way John Wesley would have counselled. However, if the Church believes that the current regime is illegitimate then they do have a right to question the powers of the Government.
The situation is even more complicated:
1. No secular authority has the right to ban a Methodist Conference. That precedent was established way back in 1839 at Rewa by John Hunt when the missionaries rejected a High Chief's attempt to control Church decisions. Remember in those days the statements of a High Chief were the secular authority. The detail can be read in either Inheritance of Hope or A Shaking of the Land
2. The church has been severely compromised by its past actions in endorsing illegitimate actions against lawful governments - 1987 being the obvious example.
Having said all that, the Methodist Church needs to stand firm at the moment and say to the government that only they have the power to discipline their church ministers (if such discipline is necessary) and such discipline can only be done within appropriate bodies such as the Methodist Conference.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thank you for your comments Andrew. Both Peceli and I have a strong sense of loyalty to the Methodist Church in Fiji and were shocked by the events of the past week. Perhaps the confrontation really stemmed from the refusal to applaud the 'Charter for Change' rather than excuses about attitudes going back decades. And, everyone does have a right to their personal opinion.
Though the major players in the spat are our Methodist colleagues and even relatives, it is timely to examine where the church is going and to ask are there other ways of ministry in the world of today - such as a major focus on youth. I am surprised that the mainstream denominations and other religious bodies have been so silent.

Andrew Thornley said...

Yes Wendy - You are quite right about the silence of the other churches. My wife, Carolyn (a Uniting Church Minister here in Sydney and with whom I taught at Davuilevu last year) was only saying this morning that the Fiji Council of Churches needs to speak out on the current crisis. But I fear that the FCC is a sadly crippled institution.

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Saimoni Matawalu said...

Thank you Talatala & Radini - Miau bula re !!

I am an electrical engineer/lecturer and educational leader in a University and I can easily relate to your comparatives of electric circuits to the subject.

I believe that God has given all of us Innovations and Visions to effectively carry out the Lord's Will on earth.

Talatalas in my opinion must come out from their comfort shells and engage academics, engineers, professionals in his church or tabacakacaka or wasewase in church administration and christian leadership as most of us are already in familiar surroundings in our daily professions.

The function of normal switched is that it acts as gates to allow electrical impulses (current) to a branch of a circuit. A typical switch would be the emphasis of a detailed, effective training programmes where congregational multi-way discussions are encouraged.

I believe in Education and Training (in Jesus's time it was called discipleship) We are still grasping on to gospel through pulpit preaching which may fast become a primitive way of sharing the gospel.

Great site indeed this one.