Fellowship as a community of believers needs to be promoted says a senior Pacific Theological College (PTC) academic after observing the celebration of fellowship at the Tonga Methodist Church General Conference held from the 24 June to July 1 in Nukualofa.
Director of the Institute for Mission and Research of Aisake Casimira said the devotion to the importance of fellowship was clearly apparent in the meticulous manner in which the Conference programme was set out.
‘People came together to fellowship, to eat and do oratory, affirming and acknowledging each other with presentations of cultural items like tapa and cultural artifacts,’ said Mr. Casimira.
‘The attention given to fellowship was refreshing and clearly important considering the important role it plays in building strong relationships and bonds between people, working together to achieve common benefits.
‘I guess it was refreshing because we’ve become so business minded and focused on working on the conference agenda that we’ve forgotten to fellowship.
‘There needs to be a good balance between fellowship and the Conference agenda.’
PTC attended the Conference on the invitation of the Tongan Methodist Church in a move to strengthen relationships with the regional theological college.
Fellowship is a key pillar for many churches and even then each church has its own perspective on what it means to be a church.
Some other key pillars include administration, mission and the church hierarchy but in a time of changing contexts, churches increasingly have to relook at what it means to be church.
‘In terms of theological education one of the ways we could work with the church in defining what it means to be a church today,’ said Mr. Casimira.
‘It is important given that the issues of 1970s and 1980s have deepened and escalated i.e. issues like non-communicable disease, gender issues and climate change.
‘In terms of theological education curriculum how can we offer courses that are relevant to these issues, and we also have the trainings that we do in country and as well the need to initiate these discussions with the churches,’ Mr. Casimira added.
Fellowships rally relationships between the churches and with its partners strengthening efforts in addressing common challenges through the power of unity.
A key outcome of the Tongan Methodist Church Conference was the re-election of its President Rev. Dr. ‘Ahio and the General Secretary Rev. Dr. Koloa’ia Havea.
‘We thank the Church for the invitation and the initiative to fellowship, the honor of cultural gifts, mats, baskets and tapa and for the coverage of our travel costs,’ said Mr. Casimira.