In the picture: Rev Dr Havea and members of Free Wesleyan Church in Australia attend luncheon after the Dr Havea’s first religious service on Sunday 2. Photo/Facebook
Disgraced Wesleyan minister Rev Matafonua Fotofili claims the Tongan Free Wesleyan Church in Australia has split and accused his replacement of starting a new church.
Rev Matafonua Fotofili claims the new Superintendant of the church in Australia, the Rev Dr Siotame Havea, and his followers had broken away from the church he was leading.
Dr Havea was appointed by the FWC’s 92nd conference in Tonga to take over from Rev Fotofili after he was found guilty of misconduct for his role in the collapse of the Pulela’a church.
Rev Fotofili and some followers did not attend a prayer service conducted by Dr Havea on Sunday, August 2.
Speaking to the Tongan Radio programme SBS, Rev Fotofili said Dr Havea and his followers had defected from the church he is leading.
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He said the Tongan Free Wesleyan Church in Australia was still operating according to the Australian law.
He claimed Australian law did not allow people from other countries to interfere with church matters in Australia.
He said he and his followers were accountable to the Australian Conference and that they would continue to run the church as normal until a decision was reached on a legal challenge they had launched against the Tongan conference’s declaration.
However, when he was asked on SBS whether he was accountable to the conference in Tonga or Australia, he said he was accountable to the Tongan conference.
He then said the church’s General Trust in Australia had decided to delay responding to the call by the Tongan conference for him and his colleagues to return to Tonga and attend a counselling service as ministers without ministries.
Rev Dr Siotame Havea and two other ministers were called by the Tongan conference last month to replace Rev Fotofili and his colleagues.
Rev Dr Havea’s first religious service in Australia on Sunday 2 attracted an almost full house, with hardly any spare seats.
During the Free Wesleyan Church’s 92nd conference in Tonga last month Rev Fotofili, Rev Sione Mataele Pinomi and Rev Viliami Tu’akoi launched a legal action against a decision not to give them ministries.
They were told to return to Tonga and they had to work under the scrutiny of the President and attend counselling services.
The decision was made after the conference was told the reverends had mismanaged the church’s properties in New South Wales. They were found guilty of professional misconduct by a team of investigators led by the Church’s Secretary General, Dr Tevita Havea in 2014.
The Australian-based ministers launched the legal action after claiming they were not given a reasonable opportunity to respond to their accusation.
However, Dr Havea reportedly said they were given the opportunity to respond, but instead hired lawyers in Australia to reply to the charges laid against them.
The FWC conference also announced last month that the church would take legal action with Australian authorities against the lawyers hired by the ministers, saying they misinformed the church’s headquarters in Tonga about what actually happened in Australia after the Pulela’a church was liquidated and sold by Westpac bank.
The main points
- Disgraced Wesleyan minister Rev Matafonua Fotofili clams the Tongan Free Wesleyan Church in Australia has split and accused his replacement of starting a new church.
- Speaking to the Tongan Radio programme SBC, Rev Fotofili said the FWC’s appointee, the Rev Dr Siotame Havea, and his followers had broken away from the Australian church.
- He said the Tongan Free Wesleyan Church in Australia was still operating under his leadership according to the Australian law.
- Rev Fotofili, Rev Sione Mataele Pinomi and Rev Viliami Tu’akoi were found guilty of professional misconduct by a team of investigators led by the Church’s Secretary General, Dr Tevita Havea in 2014.