Congratulations Rev Dr Piula Samuelu

Today it was publically announced that Piula Samuelu, a PhD candidate from the Methodist Church in Samoa has successfully defended his PhD thesis to the Board of Examiners, consisting of three professors from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The title of his thesis is: “Decolonizing Grace: A Faapalepale Restorative Theology from a Samoan Perspective.” He said, “In my current pursuit, I continued to seek out and critique those ‘grace theologies’ where love and servitude are deeply bound together for better or for worse. This led me to evident asymmetries of power where God’s grace was no longer treated as a free-flowing gift, but an obligation tied to the human response. This motivated me to apply a more serious treatment of the doctrine of grace, its transmission and its colonial entanglements. In my thesis, I am constantly referring to this asymmetry of power as a “colonial underpinning” or “mindset.” That is, a digestive force that was not only imposed on Samoan communities, but also self-imposed. This imperial mindset has roots in both the faith we inherited and in the Samoan culture too. Beyond the limitations of current alofa tunoa theologies, I proposed an alternative translation of faapalepale. This was done with the aim of decentralising the current view of grace.” In his speech this morning, he thanked the college, the Principal, the faculty, his supervisors, Rev Dr Faafetai Aiava (internal) and Distinguished Professor Joerg Rieger (external) from Vandabilt University, his PhD study mates, in particular his wife and children for the tremendous support. Dr Samuelu hopes to graduate in the November graduation this year and returns to serve his church and the country. Again, congratulations on this milestone achievement!