A group of South Pacific Division Adventists are petitioning the Samoas-Tokelau Mission, Trans-Pacific Union Mission, South Pacific Division, and the General Conference to revisit the change in Seventh-day Adventists’ day of worship in Samoa when the International Date Line was changed by the Samoan government in 2011. The change meant that Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa are now worshiping on Sunday. Though the change has been accepted by all levels of church leadership, it has caused great consternation among many lay people. The petition is being distributed by John Wallace, a layman from Dargaville, New Zealand.
The bulk of the statement is reproduced below:
- We are Seventh-day Adventists residing outside Samoa.
- We are fully aware of the Administrative decision made by the Executive Committee of the Mission in 2011, prior to the realignment of the International Dateline (IDL) by the Government of the Independent State of Samoa (‘the Government’) to the east of its territory at midnight on the 29th of December 2011, that the Sabbath in that week and every week thereafter in Samoa should be observed on the day after Saturday (i.e. Sunday) because their reasoning was: that Sunday would become the 7th day of the week in Samoa on the basis that the 30th of December 2011 would be lost during the IDL realignment and therefore the continuity of the 7 day sequence (cycle) of the week would be broken as a result of the IDL realignment.
- Notwithstanding the administrative directive which followed on from the said decision, which has been very strongly endorsed and defended by the Bible Research Committee (BRC) and Division administrators, it is, with respect, that we differ.
- We maintain that the 7th day of the week in Samoa has been and continues to be on the day called Aso To’ona’i in Samoa (Saturday in English), and the 30th of December 2011 did not disappear or go missing during the IDL realignment as it is impossible in nature for such an occurrence to happen, and it did not happen.
- Indeed, we contend that the 7th day of each and every week in Samoa was, is and always will be on the day called Aso To’ona’i (Saturday in English) notwithstanding the two IDL realignments in the past and any in the future.
- Our position is absolutely consistent with the authoritative statement by the General Conference in Session, the highest authority on earth of the SDA world Church which has embraced the practice of the fourth commandment, as described in Luke 23:54-24:1 and as stated in the Church Manual (constitution of the world Church) that Sabbath is to be observed “…from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday”. This biblical, constitutional directive is reiterated in the ‘Exposition of the Church’s Fundamental Beliefs’ and is applicable throughout the whole world without any exception or exemption.
- The GC in Session has not approved or given authorisation to any subordinate administrative or policy making body (including the South Pacific Division and the Samoa Tokelau Mission) to change the ‘sunset Friday to sunset Saturday’ rule for islands in the Pacific around the IDL.
- We are therefore PROTECTORS and DEFENDERS of the official constitutional rule of the world Church against Church leaders and committees who have attempted to change the Bible-based, constitutional rule about Sabbath observance from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday in Samoa, as well as, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna and, Kiribati.
- Therefore, we are not rebels or trouble makers.
- We are also amongst the MAJORITY of Church members throughout the world who uphold the biblical, constitutional Sabbath rule of the world Church.
- This is the sixth year since the Sabbath observance impasse began. We respectfully say that administrators of the Mission, Division and GC have been gravely negligent and failed dismally to resolve this impasse in an appropriate, fair, amicable and timely manner.
- Instead, they constantly hide behind their standard reply and excuse ‘that the decision on this matter has already been made’, but are not bold and courageous enough to allow and organise an appropriate and open forum for ministers, church academics and scholars, as well as church members to openly discuss the validity and legitimacy of the process and reasons advanced by church leaders and committees to support and try to defend the current observance of the Sabbath on Sunday.
- While we respect our church administrators and ordained officials, as well as, committees including the BRC, and the respective Executive Committees, we do not accept that they are INFALLIBLE and are ENDOWED EXCLUSIVELY by the Lord with all wisdom regarding all Church matters.
WE THEREFORE PETITION for a properly organised open forum for church ministers, administrators, academics and scholars, as well as members in Samoa and abroad to be presented with comprehensive arguments on both sides of the current impasse and to discuss ways and means to amicably resolve the present, unfortunate and very damaging impasse which has plagued the Church in Samoa for almost 6 years now and return it to the ‘sunset Friday to sunset Saturday’ principle as stated in the Bible and Church Manual.
The petition is being circulated both in paper form, and as an online petition.