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Rev. Amaama tenders resignation as CCCAS General Secretary

Some of the CCCAS elders, with Chairman Rev. Elder Mamoe Eveni Jr. (right) during court proceedings between the CCCAS and Secretary General Rev. Amaama Tofaeono in June 2017.  [SN fie photo]
Pending a vote of acceptance by the General Assembly in July 2018

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — It’s been almost a year since the matter between the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa (CCCAS) and their elected General Secretary Rev. Dr. Amaama Tofaeono was before the Trial Division of the High Court of American Samoa; and while the case is still before the court, Amaama tendered his resignation to the Chairperson of the CCCAS General Assembly yesterday. However, according to Amaama, his resignation is pending a vote of acceptance by the General Assembly during its July 2018 meeting.

In March 2017, Committee of Elders of the CCCAS suspended Amaama from the position as an ordained minister for a period of three years. Amaama was then removed from his position as General Secretary of CCCAS, a position that must be held by an ordained minister, according to the CCCAS constitution.

The Elders Committee accused Amaama of committing adultery and physically abusing his wife and daughter, which Amaama continues to strongly deny.

According to his resignation letter obtained by Samoa News, yesterday, Amaama was elected as General Secretary for July 2016 - July 2020 by the General Assembly of the CCCAS, and was removed from his position. He was also stripped of his ordination by the Committee of Elders, something he still believes is “not correct”.

“At this point in time, I have no intention of judging who is right or wrong on what has transpired while I served in the GS’s capacity as well as the court case proceedings. Due to the inevitable fact that we, the executive officers of the CCCAS General Assembly cannot mend our differences and be reconciled as Christians, I have decided that it would be an honor as a humble employee and a professional theologian to step down with the permission of the General Assembly that elected me to serve,” he wrote.

“I would also like to seek your pardon for not taking heed to the decision of the Committee of Elders suspending me,” Amama stated.

However, he continues, “The Chairman took me to court and has told the court that this suspension justifies the termination of my work as General Secretary of CCCAS. With all due respect, I do not believe this is correct.”

Amaama states in his resignation letter that he fully understands the CCCAS Constitution, which firmly states that the Church’s ‘sole authority’ and ‘finally decision-making body’ rests on the Congregational Assembly, Fono Tele (General Assembly), and not on a single Committee.

He said he was ordained as a minister of the CCCAS by vote of approval by the CCCAS General Assembly; and, while he can be disciplined by the Elders Committee for his work as a minister, “only the General Assembly can remove my ordination as a minister.”

He further stated that he was duly elected by the General Assembly as provided by the CCCAS Constitution to serve a four-year term, as General Secretary and only the General Assembly can authorize his removal.

“Structurally, Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, and all members that congregate as the Body of Christ make the ‘final decisions’ on matters pertinent to both the spiritual and physical life of its adherents, in spite of their differences and diversity. No one part of the Body of Christ shall endorse a final saying/ decision,” Amaama points out in his letter.

According to Amaama, there appears to be mis-information being spread around that the court has made a final decision accepting his removal. He said that was not correct, because the decision of the court to remove him from the house that was given to the duly elected General Secretary is on appeal.

The issue he’s raising is that under the CCCAS Constitution it is for the General Assembly, not the Elders or the Chairman, to make the decision — to remove his ordination as a minister, as well at remove him as General Secretary.

“The Chairman has refused to bring this matter before the General Assembly at any meetings of the General Assembly. Based on what was said in the court in past hearings, it does not appear the Chairman is willing to bring this up in the upcoming meeting in July 2018," Amaama said.

“It was very irresponsible of the Chairman to bypass the General Assembly on these important matters of Church governance and minister ordination by going directly himself to court to remove me. His actions have taken the authority of the Church along with our ability to reconcile amongst ourselves with the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, and put them into the hands of the law and the lawyers and judges. His actions have made all positions of faifeau and elected Church officers insecure.”

He concluded, “As the Chairman is still refusing to bring this matter of my removal to the General Assembly, I am submitting this offer of resignation as General Secretary directly to the General Assembly in order to resolve this matter of my General Secretary position within the Church in accordance with its constitution and not in front of the court.

“I will consider my dutiful service to our Lord and the Church as General Secretary of CCCAS concluded immediately upon acceptance by the General Assembly of my resignation by vote at the July meeting,” Amaama wrote.