top of page
  • Hawai‘i Conference

Reports from the General Assembly of the Micronesian Council UCC

Find below:

  • "Pacific On The Move" – Report by Ronald Fujiyoshi

  • "The Two Journeys" – Text of welcome speech by Midion Neth

  • Report by Lawson Matauto, President of Marshall Islands JRD/UCC

 

“Pacific On The Move”

A report on the Micronesian Council United Church of Christ General Assembly

April 9-11, 2024, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Written by Ronald Fujiyoshi


The Pacific is on the move largely because 1) The economic growth of China and its increasing influence in the Pacific has resulted in the United States of America increasing its financial support for the Compact of Free Association (COFA) states in the Pacific, and 2) The Pacific nations, including the churches, are speaking up about Climate Change, the effects of Nuclear Radiation, and other issues faced by the world. On March 8, 2024 the US Senate passed a $7.1 billion Aid Deal that will be given to three COFA nations: the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau. Also included in this Aid Deal was the Compact Impact Fairness Act (CIFA) which restores federal benefits for COFA citizens residing in the U.S., including nearly 20,000 in Hawai`i. The Jarin Radrik Dron (JRD) church hosted a conference of Pacific churches and now one woman represents the North Pacific on the World Council of Churches. Both the JRD and the United Church of Christ Pohnpei (UCCP) are members of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) and in this General Assembly moved to recommend that the Namoneas Congregational Churches Association (NCCA) become a member of the PCC. Even without the presence of the United Church of Christ Kosrae (UCCK), the Conference Minister of the Hawaii Conference UCC, the Global Relations Minister for East Asia and the Pacific, and the General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, the MCUCC General Assembly was uplifting, spirit-filled and productive.

The last General Assembly of the MCUCC was held in Kosrae state in May 2008, six (6) years ago. Airfare within the Pacific (and within Micronesia) is expensive due to the lack of competitive airlines flying between the countries. The long delay between general assemblies, also due to Covid, generated much anticipation and warm interaction between delegates of the three MCUCC church groups. The assembly was blessed with the deputation of forty (40) deacons from the JRD representing the churches on Majuro atoll. Their spirited singing and their donations to the host churches was a model of stewardship. An appearance of the Nanmwarki of Madolenihmw at the opening ceremony, the presence of Irooj Whitney Loeak in the JRD delegation, and an address by the Governor of Pohnpei added to the importance of the assembly. The planners of the assembly agenda invited key FSM Government officials to address the assembly. The Honorable Emeliana Musrasrik-Carl, President of the Pohnpei State Women’s Council and Director of Administration for the FSM Supreme Court delivered a strong message.  There was even a time set aside for a Fun Night. The hospitality, the food, dancing and especially the singing distinguished the Pacific churches-style of their gatherings. Please see the following outline report of the MCUCC General Assembly and the photos for more details of the total program. Do not hesitate to ask Rev. Kachusy and Myleen Silander or myself for more information.



One last comment on “Pacific On The Move.” One subject that was noted in reports from all of the MCUCC churches was that people are migrating out of Micronesia. Like historic movements of large bodies of faith groups in the past, the effects of this migration will have consequences for the MCUCC churches. Please keep these churches in your prayers and reach out to one of these related congregations to be compadres in this historic transition.

 

Delegations:

  1. UCCP (Rev. Midion Neth, Senator Shelton Neth, Rev. Nickontro Johnny, Mrs. Elsie Ramon, Rev. Nolensner Charley)

  2. JRD (Rev. Lawson Matauto, Rev. Jeledrik Binejal, Mrs. Kaki Binejal, Rev. Josen Teico, Mr. Sladen Jieta, Mr. Burton McKay)

  3. Namoneas Congregational Churches Association (Rev. Binasto Ruben, Rev. Johnson Elimo, Mrs. Elimo, Rev. Johnny Andrew, Rev. Dickenson Dois, Mr. Waily Fiti)

  4. UCC-Kosrae (Excused)

  5. HCUCC (Excused: Rev. David Popham)

  6. Global Ministries East Asia & the Pacific (Excused: Mr. Derek Duncan)


Consultants:

1.     Hawaii (Mr. Ronald Fujiyoshi, Rev. Kachusy Silander)

2.     Pacific Conference of Churches (could not attend)


Agenda:

1.     Reports (JRD, NCCA, UCCP, Hawaii Conference Minister David Popham)

2.     Worship

3.     Guest speakers (Hon. Emeliana Musrasrik-Carl, President, Pohnpei State Women’s Council & Director of Administration, FSM Supreme Court; FSM Department of Health & Social Affairs Youth Director)

4.     Food & Singing


Highlights:

1.     Traditional and Government leaders (Nanmwarki of Madolenihmw Herbert Hebel, Irooj Whitney Loeak, Governor of Pohnpei Stevenson A. Joseph)

2.     Hospitality (UCCP Kepinle Church, UCCP Wapar Church, UCCP Ohwa Church, UCCP Nan Mand Church, UCCP Mand Church, others)

3.     Special Contributions (JRD Deacons [40] from churches on Majuro Atoll: Rita, Uliga, and Majuro UCC [Rairok, Ajeltake, & Laura])


Results:

1.     Next MCUCC General Assembly (Majuro, RMI hosted by the JRD in 2026)

2.     Motions passed (Recommendation that NCCA become a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches, New Translation of the Chuukese Bible, Response to Hawaii Conference Minister’s Report, Request to Global Ministries for Youth and Women’s Conferences, Re-election of Officers)


 

"The Two Journeys"

Welcome speech to the Micronesia Council of United Church of Christ (MCUCC) General Assembly

Rev. Midion Neth, MCUCC President


April 8, 2024

Pohnpei, Federal States of Micronesia

I welcome you all, church leaders.

As Chair of the MCUCC, the theme for my welcome speech is "The Two Journeys". I will explain the theme in the following paragraphs, and their applications to us, as a body of United Churches of Christ in our region of Pasifika.


The books of Exodus and Numbers in the Old Testament, have some striking similarities. They are both about journeys. They both portray the Israelites as quarrelsome and ungrateful. Both contain stories about the people complaining about food and water. In both the Israelites commit a major sin: in Exodus, the golden calf, in Numbers, the episode of the spies. In both, God threatens to destroy them and begin again with Moses. Both times, Moses' passionate appeal persuades God to forgive the people. It is easy when reading Numbers, to feel a sense of déjà vu. We have been here before.


But there is a difference. Exodus is about a journey from. Numbers is about a journey to. Exodus is the story of an escape from slavery. Exodus, the English name of the book, means just that: departure, withdrawal, leaving. By contrast, in Numbers the people have already left Egypt far behind. They have spent a prolonged period in the Sinai desert. They have received the Torah and built the Sanctuary. Now they are ready to move on. This time they are looking forward, not back. They are thinking not of the danger they are fleeing from but of the destination they are traveling toward, the Promised Land.


The mood in the Book of Numbers is palpably darker than it is in Exodus. The rebellions are more serious. Moses' leadership is more hesitant. We see him giving way, at times, to anger and despair. The Torah, with great realism, is telling us something counterintuitive and of great significance.


The journey from is always easier than the journey to.

There is a biological reason why this is so. We are genetically predisposed to react strongly to danger. Our deepest instincts are aroused. We move into the fight-or-flight mode, with our senses alert, our attention focussed, and our adrenalin levels high. When it comes to fleeing- from, we often find ourselves accessing strengths we did not know we had.


But fleeing-to is something else entirely. It means making a home in place where, literally or metaphorically, we have not been before. We become "strangers in a strange land." We need to learn new skills, shoulder new responsibilities, acquire new strengths. That calls for imagination and willpower. It involves the most unique of all human abilities: envisaging a future that has not yet been and acting to bring it about. Fleeing-to is a journey into the unknown.


That was the difference between Abraham and his father Terach. The Torah tells us that "Terach took his son Abram ... and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there” (Gen 11:31). Terach had sufficient willpower for the journey-from (Ur Kasdim) but not for the journey-to (Canaan). It was left to Abraham to reach the destination.


To be a Church or a Christian is to know, in some sense, life is a journey. So, it was for Abraham. So, it was for Moses. So, it is for us, collectively and individually. Hence the importance of knowing at the outset where we are travelling to, and never forgetting, never giving up. Leaving is easy, arriving is hard.


Which is why, when people ask me for advice about their careers, I tell them that the most important thing is to dream. Dream about what you would like to do, to be, to achieve. Dream about the chapter you would like to write in the story of our people. Dream about what difference you would like to make to the world. "In dreams," said W. B. Yeats, "begin responsibilities." I'm not entirely sure what he meant by that, but this I know: in dreams begin destinations. They are where we start thinking about the future. They signal the direction of our journey.


Our church here in Pohnpei embarked on a journey from into a new journey to. We undertook a reformation process. In some ways, the journey from was less difficult because there was sense of the need to reform our church. However, the journey into will require much effort. Education the heart of our people into the new journey will be the difficult challenge. This is because if we focus too much on the present, we will loss the future.


The Israelites, in their journey, made a series of mistakes. They focussed too much on the present (the food, the water) and too little on the future. When they faced difficulties, they had too much fear and too little faith. They kept looking back to how things were instead of looking forward to how they might be. The result was that almost an entire generation suffered the fate of Abraham's father. They knew how to leave but not how to arrive. They experienced exodus but not entry.


So, it is for us as a collection of United Churches. The lesson for us is that we know our people's present realities, their hopes and concerns. But do we know their journeys to? Do we know where we should be heading? Do we know how to lead our people into a future that God has destined for us? The question, "What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or unfocussed about the journey to?" The reply should be "Remember your destination. Remember your dream" And so with us today as leaders of the MCUCC. Responding in that manner will help our people to make the single most important distinction on life, and that is to make the important distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted. We must teach and help our people, not to look back to the journey from, but seize the opportunities in the journey to. That is what we have been teaching our people in our church during our reformation period. And it still continues. History is important and we must record the significant events and memories in my church's journey from. But I always say to my church members that we cannot go back and live the past. Now, we must take the journey to, even if it is much more difficult than the journey from.


So, my fellow church leaders, let us deliberate wisely these next few days on the realitie3s and conditions of our people and our churches. If we are to be leaders of today and nurturing the leaders of tomorrow, we must teach them how to not to give up on the journey to the future. We must ensure that our people, especially the young leaders, have a dream. We must help them and encourage them not to lose hope.


To the new President of the MCUCC, who will be inaugurated at the closing ceremony, I express my individual and church's full support and assistance, if needed. The journey to the future will not be easy. But as long as we have a dream to work towards and responsibilities to fulfill, the journey will be full of hope.


May God bless us all and guide us in our conversations.


Rev. Midion Neth

President, MCUCC



 

Presented by Rev. Lawson Matauto, President of JRD/UCC

The Church plays an important role in tackling social, health and environmental issues that we face. It is the church that has the greatest influence on the people.


Comments


Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
bottom of page