Tokaikolo church continues its dismissal campaign

In what has become the latest in a slew of recent church disputes, the Tokaikolo Church has written to Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa telling him that he has been excommunicated by the church, according to a decision made in a meeting on September 26.

The letter of dismissal was signed by Rev Po’uli Vaki of the Tokaikolo Christian Church International Headquarter, based in Lavengamalie.

A removal order was also sent by the Tokaikolo to the parish pastor of the Kolomotu’a’s Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi’s church residence, Rev Kava Faʻoliu demanding he moves out of the pastoral house by October 10.  

Dr Tu’i’onetoa is Tonga’s Auditor General and he was one of the founding members of the Tokaikolo church since its inception in 1980  by the Founder  Rev Pastor Senituli Koloi.

As an insider, Dr Tu’i’onetoa once described the situation in the Tokaikolo Church as ‘absolute chaos’. He also described the Leader Rev Liufau Saulala as a ‘prevaricator’ and a ‘fabricator’.  

The Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi Church community of Kolomotu’a was one of the congregations that broke away from the Tokaikolo Church in July this year following a political conflict within the church and legal action filed in Auckland.  

That disturbance caused more than 80 percent of its members to defect and they established the Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalaisi Church.

In an email to Kaniva News, Dr Tu’i’onetoa regarded his expel by the Tokaikolo as a ‘laughing stock’ and ‘meaningless’.

He said the letter should have stated clearly what church’s policy or constitution he breached, if there were any.

The letter should also have given him a chance to respond to his dismissal, he added.

Dr Tu’i’onetoa was overseas at the time and he said the matter should have gone through ‘due process of law’ including allowing him to attend the meeting and make response to the charges.

He said he would talk to his lawyer regarding his dismissal.

The removal order sent to the Kolomotu’a pastor to leave the house implied the residence legally belongs to the Tokaikolo.

But Dr Tu’i’onetoa has a different story.

He said, since the establishment of the church in Kolomotu’a the residential property, the church building  and the land belonged to the church members of Kolomotuʻa and not the Tokaikolo church.

Dr Tuʻiʻonetoa said since the church members are mainly elderly he did not want to burden them with loans and donation to build the church .

Instead he and another church member, Hepeti Takeifanga, both working at the government decided to lodge a personal loan through the Westpac Bank of Tonga to build the Kolomotu’a Tokaikolo Church.

They asked the Tokaikolo Church head office to act as guarantor of the loan, but it was declined.

 “I still have with me a letter in 2008 from the Tokaikolo’s secretary at the time,  Rev Manatu Tu’iono informing me the Tokaikolo had declined our request to become a guarantor of a personal loan under my name and that of Hepeti Takeifanga,” Dr Tu’i’onetoa said in his email, in Tongan.

The letter from Tu’iono further stated that the Tokaikolo is not bound to get involved in parishes’ local matters. 

Tu’iono also emphasised his letter was in accordance with a decision made by him and President Liufau Saulala.

Dr Tu’ionetoa, however managed to have the loan approved by the bank and the Kolomotu’a church was built.

With regard to the removal order sent to Rev Faʻoliu, Dr Tuʻiʻonetoa said he advised him to disregard the order and never leave the residence.

The Tokaikolo Church released an announcement early this year saying the church would not ever talk to media answering any request for information. With that Kaniva News could not be able to obtain comments from them.

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