Free Wesleyan Church
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (March 2011)|
The Free Wesleyan Church (FWC) (Tongan: Siasi Uesiliana Tau‘ataina ‘o Tonga) is the largest Methodist denomination in Tonga, and also the state church. It is the world's only state church in the Methodist tradition. The royal family of the country are prominent members, and the late king was a lay preacher.
In 1924, Queen Salote wanted to combine the official state church of Tonga (Free Church of Tonga), established by her great grandfather King George Tupou I, with the Methodist church (governed by the Methodist body in Australia). However being unsuccessful, the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga is now the official state church of Tonga. The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Siasi Uesiliana Tau'ataina 'o Tonga) was founded as a sovereign nation, in the process of promoting its sovereignty abroad by means of bilateral treaties with Western nations should have an independent (Wesleyan) Church. Preachers in the FWC system must be ordained ministers, a process that takes between 3 and 5 years, and can involve many stages of approval and apprenticeship. However, ministers are not required to attend theological seminary, because often doing so in the past created a teacher shortage in the church schools while the candidates were attending seminary.
The Free Wesleyan Church also runs 30% of the schools in Tonga, and are generally considered the best out of the church-run schools. Many parents choose to send their children to the FWC schools for moral education; to teach them obedience, hard work, good manners, and respect, which are all high values in Tonga. As in other schools, FWC schools usually do not have class on Fridays, but instead use the day for school cleanup; all school facilities in Tonga are maintained by the students. School uniforms are the church's colors: royal blue and white.
The Current President of the Church is Reverend Dr 'Ahio and Secretary General is Reverend Dr Tevita Koloa'ia Havea. They both took their office in the Church Conference of 2009. The Church has been led by the following Church Leaders:
- 1st President was Reverend Setaleki Manu 1924-1925
- 2nd President was Reverend Roger Page 1925-1946
- 3rd President was Reverend Alfred Mckay 1946-1956
- 4th President was Reverend Ronald Woodgate 1956-1961
- 5th President was Reverend Howard Secomb 1961-1963
- 6th President was Reverend George Clemens Harris 1963-1969
- 7th President was Reverend Justin Gooderham 1969-1971
- 8th President was Reverend Dr Sione 'Amanaki Havea 1971-1977
- 9th President was Reverend Dr Uiliami Huluholo Mo'ungaloa 1977-1982
- 10th President was Reverend Dr Sione 'Amanaki Havea 1982-1992
- 11th President was Reverend Sione Lepa To'a 1992-1993
- 12th President was Reverend Lopeti Taufa 1993-1998
- 13th President was Reverend Dr 'Alifaleti Malakai Mone 1998-2009
- 14th Current President is Reverend Dr 'Ahio 2009–present
- Tonga on the 'NET - Christianity and The Kingdom of Tonga: Free Wesleyan Church
- 2011 Statistical Data on FWC Educational Institutions
- Tohi 'Asenita 'o e Konifelenisi Kakato 88