White Sunday — for the children
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The annual White Sunday celebration, dedicated to the children of American Samoa, is today, Sunday, Oct. 13th.
Introduced in the islands by Christian missionaries in the 1800s, White Sunday has became a special holiday, with children being treated to the best — from White Sunday outfits to food served during family toana'i. It is always celebrated on the second Sunday in October.
The Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa and the Methodist faith lavishly celebrate White Sunday, and in past years, it has spread to other faiths, although to a smaller degree. The Tongan community here will also be holding White Sunday services.
White Sunday is celebrated in other parts of the world where Samoan communities are present, including Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fort Hood (Texas), New Zealand, and Australia.
In our sister state Samoa where yesterday was Sunday across the dateline, the White Sunday celebration has united two of the biggest denominations in the village of Leusoali'i in Upolu.
Members of the Methodist Church and the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) at Leusoalii gathered under one roof to celebrate the day dedicated to the children.
In doing so, the children of Leusoali'i joined thousands of other children throughout the country in celebration.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Reverend Leauma Fa'alafi, of the Methodist Church, said the joint service is not new and that it was done before in previous years.
“The significance of praying together, it represents unity amongst the younger generation,” he said.
He added that if the children are nurtured with the word of God, then they will grow up and be good role models.
“The aim of this day is to guide the young ones to God. A life dedicated in serving God has the most blessings and that is why the children will be performing items based on the Bible.
“Without God in our lives, life becomes meaningless and has no true purpose.”
The President of the Methodist Church Sunday School at Leusoalii, Utuimalie Paneta, said White Sunday is a very special day.
“We are not only uniting in harmony as one people with two different denominations but it is also a chance for both Sunday schools to share their message of hope with each other.
“It is not a competition, the most important thing is to glorify God in all that we do.
“The children are gifts from God, and Jesus said ‘… unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’
In his annual White Sunday message, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said, the Territory will again focus its attention on memorializing and celebrating God’s message about the children which is contained in Luke 18:16 wherein Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”.
So each year, we have dedicated the second Sunday of the month of October labeling it “White Sunday” so our children are accorded the special attention inherent in God’s message highlighting their importance and significance to our society and our social hierarchy.
Reciting scriptures and enacting religious events by our children during White Sunday reflects our commitment to ensure that our children realize, along with affirmed indoctrination, that God is their source of strength, success, development, and long-term happiness. White Sunday also serves to rekindle our reafirmation of our duty to care for the children of God and to ensure that God’s promise for each of them will be actualized.
In today’s society and the hostile environment within which our children are obliged to grow up and to live their lives heightens due diligence and constant vigilance on our part as parents, religious, cultural, community, and business leaders to safeguard our children from having their futures robbed because of the effects of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.
Let us also remember and pray for all the children of the world who are suffering from starvation, persecution, abuse, neglect, and not experiencing the warmth and the tenderness of God’s love for His Children.
On this day as well we pray that our children will cherish and nurture values of kindness, generosity, sharing, honesty, responsible, dependable, and placing others before their own needs.
(Editor’s note: While leaders of Samoa and American Samoa call for God’s love to protect our children and safeguard them from “the effects of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes,” let’s not forget our duty to protect them as well from the effects of rape, molestation, and physical and mental abuse — crimes that fill our courts and are reported on these pages daily.)
Have a happy and safe “Lotu Tamaiti” American Samoa.