Funeral preparations underway for Fiji church president
Preparations are underway to farewell the late president of Fiji's methodist church, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu.
Preparations are underway in Fiji for the funeral of the country's methodist church President, who died yesterday after a short illness.
Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu died in hospital in Suva at the age of 66.
A spokesperson for the church, Reverend James Bhaghwan, told Jamie Tahana that the church is now planning a big week of ceremonies as it prepares to elect a successor.
JAMES BHAGHWAN: The church has met with both the family members and the traditional community of the late methodist church president and this morning in a press conference we officially announced his passing away on Tuesday at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva after a short illness. Basically what happens now is that from Monday next week there will be traditional gatherings where people come to present their traditional condolences and that will take place in our jubilee hall in Suva and then on Thursday the 20th it will be the funeral service for the late President which will be held at our centenary methodist church, which is really the mother methodist church, and then the late president's body will be taken to Tavui Levu which is the grounds of the training institutions for the methodist church and was also one of the biggest mission bases for the methodist church in its early days, and he will be buried there.
JAMIE TAHANA: So a big week of ceremony next week?
JB: That's right. As you can imagine, with 56 divisions of the methodist church and more than a quarter of the population being methodist in Fiji it is a tremendous loss, not just to the methodist church, but also to the people of Fiji and to the community of faith, or christians in Fiji.
JT: What will he be most remembered for?
JB: Reverend Dr. Tuikilakila Waqairatu in fact had just completed his first year of being president and he presided over the first methodist church conference after some time considering the political situation in Fiji. He was responsible for a vision of a reconciled and forward-moving church.
JT: And he really did hit the ground running with that didn't he? That reconciliation of the factions.
JB: Yes indeed. In fact his installation as president of the methodist church which took place immediately before our conference last year was very significant and had a lot of deep theological significance as well. He was installed not only by the immediate past president but by Reverend Joseph Ikoroi who served as president up until he was ousted in 1989, so it was a very important time of reconciliation and peace-making.
JT: What's the process now?
JB: The standing committee, which is the executive body of the church, will meet in an emergency session tomorrow to discuss not only the funeral arrangements and the finer details of farewelling our late president, but also to discuss who will be responsible for acting in the position of president until we can have elections in our conference later at the end of August this year.
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