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Presbyterians Establish Pacific Islanders' Synod

Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

Presbyterians Establish Pacific Islanders' Synod

In an historic decision the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to establish a Pacific Islanders' Synod. The Synod will work in partnership with the rest of the Church on issues affecting Pacific Island people. The Synod's aim is to be a more effective advocate and voice for Pacific people within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Rev Tuleia said that the Synod will enable Pacific voices within the Church to be heard more effectively, "A Pacific Island member of the Church will be able to take their concerns and comments through their fono (ethnic group) to the Synod in their own language. The Synod can then can speak directly to the Assembly. In the early days of the Church Pacific Island elders were reluctant to accept Church positions because of language barriers."

Rev Uea Tuleia said the Synod vote affirms the importance of Pacific Island worshipping styles: "Singing our own songs in ethnic languages and just worshipping the way we feel that we should to express our faith is important to us. We want to be identified as Niueans, Cook Islands, Samoans, Tuvalu, Tokelau, it's really something important."

According to the Rev Tuleia the next step for the Synod is hard work, encouraging the Church to get behind the vision of the Synod. "Freedom has been granted to exercise our gifts of mission as a platform to enrich the Presbyterian Church as well. We need to use that freedom for the benefit of all."

With Presbyterianism the most common religious denomination for people of Pacific ethnicity (2001 census), the Pacific Island section of the Church plays a key role in the Presbyterian denomination. Currently there are about 35 parishes and 4,000 members.

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