24 July 2009

Christians urged to pray as Church leaders arrested in Fiji

The British Methodist Church is calling on Christians to pray for the Methodist Church in Fiji following the arrests of seven Church leaders by Fiji's military government.

Earlier this week the church leaders, including the general secretary and two former presidents, were arrested and held for questioning in relation to the Church's annual Conference, scheduled in August. The government has banned the Conference from taking place, concerned that the Church's discussions will be politically focused. Those arrested include the General Secretary of the Church, Revd Tuikilakila Waqairatu, the Church's Finance Secretary, Viliame Gonelevu and two former Presidents of the Church, Revd Manasa Lasaro and Revd Tomasi Kanailagi. Revd Tomasi was a senator in the previous government.

Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships for the Methodist Church in Britain, said; "It is clear that Colonel Frank Bainimarama is making a strong statement about who is in power. The Methodist Church is the largest faith group in Fiji, holds a significant amount of power amongst the people and has considerable influence over voters. The leadership of the Church is determined to stand against the government and has lobbied the UN regarding religious freedom and human rights.

"It is important that we hold our brothers and sisters in Fiji, their government and all in the islands in our prayers during these challenging times."

The government's action effectively ensures that the Conference will not go ahead even if the Church excludes the two former presidents and agrees to refrain from any political discussions. The Methodist Church is the largest faith group in Fiji and Church leaders have insisted that the Conference will take place regardless of the ban. The ministers were treated well, have now all been released on conditional bail and are required to surrender their travel documents.

Prayer for Fiji

God of power and strength,
You make foolish the wisdom of this world.
You call upon us to find your strength in our weakness.
You offer us your guidance when all is in confusion.

We ask your protection and guidance for Church leaders in Fiji,
Your wisdom for the Fijian Government,
Your peace and stability for the people of Fiji.


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