Pacific churches need courage and wisdom to face the legacy of colonialism, migration problems, the downside of tourism, questions of democracy and good governance, the ravages of climate change and geo-political tensions, a gathering of Christians in the region has heard.
As people from “a region which has experienced, and is experiencing, the effects of all the major issues that have affected the world,” Pacific representatives need to be assertive “in bringing Pacific perspectives and experience into international forums,” said the World Council of Churches (WCC) president from the Pacific region, Mr John Taroanui Doom, addressing participants at the 9th assembly of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC).
Mr Doom delivered the keynote speech of the PCC assembly, which takes place from 2-8 September in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and focused it on the “Pacific identity” issue. He called on the 200 delegates from 25 churches and seven national councils of churches attending the gathering at the Kanana Fou Theological Seminary to change the attitude and mindset which makes Pacific people feel “junior or inexperienced”.
Among the “major issues” affecting the Pacific region and the world, Doom mentioned “colonialism, migration problems, the downside of tourism, issues of democracy and good governance, the ravages of climate change and its long term effects, [and] the geo-political tensions played out in our region by larger nations”. These issues are the context from which “Pacific theological insights” - as “Coconut theology” - come out. They need to be considered “alongside those that emanate from Europe,” Doom said.
“Here in the Pacific we prefer our world maps to have our Pacific Ocean in the centre,” he affirmed. “That is our world - the ocean is our centre.” While the rest of the world may think of the Pacific as “the region of blue skies, swaying palms and gracious hotel living […] we know we are more than that”. As the “liquid continent, a continent different from any other continent in the world,” the Pacific region is “unique”.