The matter on the EFKS church ministers paying taxes will not be discussed until the 2020 Annual Conference.
This is the explanation by the Chairman of the EFKS Church Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara when the matter was raised by some of the parishes ( matagaluega) on Monday at the start of this year’s annual conference.
Reverend Senara during the meeting on Monday this week explained that it is church policy that there are some decisions which can be discussed in the third year after they are made. The decision on paying taxes he pointed out was made in 2017 and so it will be eligible for discussion in 2020.
He also said it is not a matter he would like to say much about because it is before the court and he himself had appeared in court.
He asks the church to be patient, not to be discouraged and put their faith in God.
He is also aware that there are many stories about this matter, many interpretations and many attempts for justification but he puts his faith in God.
The parishes which brought this matter for discussion in this year’s conference called for the church to stand firmly in its current stand.
Their views were expressed in written statements which were read out by the General Secretary of the Church Rev Vavatau Taufao.
A written statement from the Apia Sasa’e Parish ( Matagaluega) encouraged the church to continue to protest against church ministers paying taxes. The church should not show any sign of giving in or wavering on this matter and that by giving in would give government the open door to interfere in matters which are specifically for the church to handle.
The A’ana Parish in its written statement asked for the church leadership to stay with its 2017-2018 decision and that church ministers should not pay taxes. Changing this stand the statement said would make the church a laughing stock of the world and this is not good for the reputation of the church.
The statement by the Fa’asaleleaga parish calls for the church to remain resolute in its stand not to pay taxes. It also said that the action by the church ministers is out of obedience to the decision by the general assembly not to pay taxes.
A delegate to the conference who spoke in anonymity to Newsline said that this issue seems to have caused a rift between government and the EFKS Church.
“ It’s a sensitive matter,” he said. “But there are so many good thoughts which have been expressed on this issue.” He added that this matter would end if government would say that they would introduce a law that would stop financial giving (alofa) to the church ministers.
He quoted the saying: “ Not to bite the hand that feeds you. “ There’s also a song about a child who wants his mother to pay him for all the chores he has done, like making up the bed and cooking. But the mother]responds – nurturing and feeding you there’s no payment for I have given my life so that you can live.”
In the past church ministers were exempted from paying taxes but a change in the tax laws has included them among the tax payers. All the other church ministers have complied but the EFKS church ministers are challenging this law.
Church ministers have already appeared in court over this matter.