May 01, 2005

Power-play in the church

New Zealand Herald

01.05.05 1.00pm
by Chris Barton

"Donít," growls the Samoan man, gesturing as he steps up to the microphone. The Herald photographer lowers his camera to a fierce tirade in Samoan as we eye the exits. We donít need a translator to realise we are not welcome.

Angrily pointing in our direction, heís apparently asking: "Who are they? Whoís paying them? And whoís paying you?"

From the table at the front of the Samani Pulepule centre in Mangere, Samoan lawyer Olinda Woodroffe answers first in Samoan and then in English. "These are Herald reporters. They have a right to report on what is happening in the community and I encourage transparency." This only partly mollifies the speaker. ...

One of the issues which brought matters to a head is the case of Oselise Falefata-Scanlan, the former minister of the Mt Wellington Samoan Assembly of God who was stripped of his pastorís credentials in March 2003, having allegedly confessed to "sexual sin with women of his congregation".

The censure was to be for a minimum of two years with the possibility of "restoration and accountability". But only if the AOG governing body, the Executive Presbytery, and the Samoan Committee witnessed "the fruit of repentance at work", something both say has not happened.

The matter is the subject of a complaint to the police of unlawful sexual connection, made 2 1/2 years ago by a member of the Mt Wellington congregation but yet to be fully investigated. Falefata-Scanlan remained in the church manse for most of his two-year censure.

Posted by kshaw at May 1, 2005 05:09 AM