Origin and beginning of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) in Aotearoa New Zealand
Since this work is the first major research on the history of the C.C.C.S. in Aotearoa New Zealand, the main objective is to provide a general survey of its origin and beginning. The Thesis takes seriously the self-understanding of the C.C.C.S. about its own history. This neccesitates the use of the cultural-theological perspective in the most inclusive sense which captures best the holistic mind of C.C.C.S. members as Samoans, while also reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the holistic mind particularly through its mode of the historical imagination. This perspective is used within the hermeneutical boundaries of the thematic and chronological approaches in conventional history writing. The history of the C.C.C.S. which is only about thirty years old, from 1962-63 to 1993, is therefore understood in a wider historical context following the hermeneutical guide of the historical imagination of the C.C.C.S. Chapters One and Two trace the origins or roots of the C.C.C.S. in the homeland of its founders, Western Samoa, and in the growth of the founders' home church [E.F.K.S.] outside Samoa in Fiji, Hawaii and in the U.S.A. The link between these two aspects of the wider historical origins is the central self understanding of modern Samoa which Samoan migrants especially since Post World War IT took with them to countries of migration. Chapter One identifies this self-understanding as a Biblical culture and a Christian society. This, according to the Samoans, culminated the theological evolution of modern Samoa at the interface between Samoan culture and Christianity on the basis of the Samoan national theological confession [or motto], Fa'avae I le Atua Samoa' [May Samoa be founded in God], from 1830 to 1960. The migration of this self understanding [or world view] with Samoan migrants became foundational in the establishment and growth of Samoan Churches in Fiji, Hawaii, the U.S.A., and in the P.I.C.C. in New Zealand. Particularly significant was the association of this migrating world view of modern Samoa with the main motivation for Samoan migrants, and with the emotional attachment and the spirit of loyalty to spiritual and cultural roots in the home church and the homeland which explain the eventual links between these migrant churches and the mother Church in Samoa. The C.C.C.S. began in New Zealand on the same basis when its founders left the P.I.C.C. But there were more crucial considerations involved. Chapters Three and Four identify the inadequacy of the multicultural church context of the P.I.C.C. to accommodate the full impact and requirements of Samoan Christianity, and also its tendency to compromise and to undermine the holiness of Samoan worship. Of utmost importance was the assertion of the right and authority for self-determination in relation to religious life, religious development and re1igious future in New Zealand which included the preference for the sole jurisdiction of the mother Church in Samoa. Chapter Four also enlarges on this as reflecting the full impact of the migrating world view of modern Samoa with Samoan migrants. What began as a natural assertion of the right for self-determination by the C.C.C.S. turned out to reflect the increasing assertion by Independent indigenous Churches of the Pacific with their indigenous leadership of their authority against the traditional authority and leadership of missionary Societies. Chapter Five gives a detailed account of the complex beginning of the C.C.C.S. in relation to these issues, and because of the controversial involvement by the relevant Church authorities- the E.F.K.S. in Samoa, and the P.I.C.C. and the C.U.N.Z. in New Zealand. The inseparable issue of the appropriate form and manner of Christian witness and ecumenism explains best the opposition by the Samoans who remained in the P.I.C.C. against the beginning of the C.C.C.S. In the final analysis, the broadminded and accommodative ecumenical approach by the E.F.K.S. in solving the complex issues arising from the controversial beginning of the C.C.C.S., because of its founding vision, had more merits than the narrowly construed and culture dismissive ecumenical approach by the P.I.C.C. and the C.U.N.Z. Chapters Six and Seven illustrate the successful growth and consolidation of the C. C. C. S. because of the inherent dynamism of its transplanted cultural foundation and its imported Church structure, and in conjunction with the positive influence of the multicultural and rich society of New Zealand. A summary of the conclusions of the Thesis may be briefly stated. The C.C.C.S. began in New Zealand as a Settler Church which was also a part of the E.F.K.S. in Samoa. This founding vision embodies the central hopes and aspirations of founders of the C.C.C.S., and also explains the actual course of the history of the C.C.C.S. in its thirty years from 1962-62 to 1993. The founding vision encapsulated certain important aspects of the wider historical context of the origin of the C.C.C.S. One was the transplantation to New Zealand of Samoan Christianity and the world view of modern Samoa in which it was formed - a biblical culture and a Christian society in the holy land of Samoa. Secondly, the link between this migrating world view of modem Samoa and the historical movement and migration of Christian civilisation means that the growth of Samoan migrant churches in countries of Samoan migration was Samoa's authentic contribution to the historical movement and migration of civilised societies and Christian civilisation. In this respect the beginning of the C.C.C.S. in New Zealand is viewed as a significant expression of the migration of the Mind of modern Samoa which, through the courtesy of modem communication and transport, and the push-pull operation of all migration, had extended its 'home horizon' in countries of Samoan migration. The founding vision also reflected the assertion of the right for self determination and the authority for the sole control of religious life, religious development, and religious future in New Zealand which included the preference for the E.F.K.S. in Samoa to be the sole authority to exercise jurisdiction over the CC.C.S. This reflected the increasing assertion of the authority of Independent indigenous Churches of the Pacific and indigenous leadership against the traditional authority and leadership of missionary societies. This was consistent with developments in world-wide Christianity particularly in relation to the paradigm shift in the form and manner of Christian witness and ecumenism as exemplified in the integration of the I.M.C. - the epitomy of traditional approach to mission, and the W.C.C. - the symbol for the transition into mission through indigenous and independent national Churches of Christian countries. When the origin and beginning of the C.C.C.S. is placed in the wider historical context, it clearly demonstrates a pioneer example of the migration of indigenous Churches of the Pacific with the determination to join the ecumenical movement in the Pacific and worldwide on the basis of national independent Churches, and on the universal mood of Independence characterised by a cultural-theological spirituality.
Advisor: Matheson, Peter; Booth, Ken
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Theology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis