; charset=UTF-8" /> My Weekend in Heaven : Connecting Voices
Free hacker tools

My Weekend in Heaven

By Bruce Jones

     I have known my Samoan friend, Sepu Tanuvasa, for several years and was honored when he invited me to preach at The First Samoan UCC of Los Angeles on Easter.

     Then he asked me to join him and his wife, Foai, for fund-raising events at Samoan churches in Carson and Huntington Beach. In Carson nearly $145,000 was raised (in three hours!) to help pay for the million-dollar building that was dedicated that morning. Someone told them I was a UCC clergyman and, during the portion of the ceremony when symbolic and real gifts were presented to the honored guests, I was given $200, simply for being there and eating their food.

     The second congregation, which was much smaller, with only seven families, needed help from other Samoan churches to repair some damage to their property from vandalism. This fund-raising event was more like those many of us have experienced in this conference, with dancing and dollar bills thrown on the floor. They raised $20,000.

     Since then, I have been telling friends that if other UCC congregations were as generous as Samoans, we could do a hostile takeover of the Southern Baptists.

     However, it was not the money that made these two “messianic banquets” a “weekend in heaven” for me. It was the sense of joy and sense of community. As with a family, congregations helped one another and took care of each other.

     What did I learn?
     I saw Samoan pastors who work harder than any Anglo pastor I know (and I have known some very hardworking ones).

     I think of traditional Samoan society as patriarchal but learned that pastors’ wives are every bit as important to ministry as the husbands. Also, every time I saw a man and a woman dancing together, it was the woman who invited the man.

     Every immigrant community has had problems adjusting to another culture, but Samoans have had an especially difficult challenge, with far less time to adapt. Before World War II their islands were relatively isolated; then they were hurled into the 20th century. Today, the children of Samoan immigrants are caught between strong family expectations and a 21st century peer group with very different expectations of them.

     I thank God for the Congregational missionaries of the London Missionary Society who gave them a gospel in the 19th century and for the UCC Samoan congregations today which are providing help for all generations in navigating their transition to the mainland.

      What advice would I give after my weekend?

     If you are invited to attend a Samoan event, jump at the chance.  Actually, you WILL have that opportunity!  Through their love of our church and support of the ministries of the Southern California Nevada Conference, The Samoan Ministries Table is sponsoring its Second Annual “Tour of the Pacific Islands Luau”.  This exciting event will be held Saturday, August 20 from noon-6:00 p.m. at the Queen Mary Event Park.  It will be en even better event than last year where you can experience all the same hospitality I did, (but without the cash gift!).  Tickets are $40 and $60.  Go to scnucc.org/TourOfTheIslands for more information.  You won’t regret it.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free