Excerpt from: “Towards a contextual theology of prophetic communication :Communicating the Prophetic Voice of the Mainline Churches and the Prophetic Role of the News Media in Contemporary Fiji-Island Society”
(SUVA: PTC/BDES Thesis, September 2006)
The coups of 1987 and 2000 had contrasting responses from the mainline Churches. On May 14th, 1987, three hours after the military coup d’ētat of the democratically Labour–National Federation Party Coalition, the President of the Methodist Church contacted some of the leaders of the Churches and produced a message on behalf of the Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian and Assembly of God Churches. The message which was broadcast at midnight that night and published in the local newspapers the next day appealed for the upholding of the Christian values of justice, peace, tolerance, goodwill, freedom and love, patience and forgiveness, sacrifice and obedience. The message called on the (at that time) Royal Fiji Military Forces to release all hostages and surrender to the sovereign authority of the land and for all people of Fiji of all religions to pray for the end of the crisis and immediate restoration of the democratically elected Government. Nine days later the Anglican Bishop, the President of the
In May 2000 following the civilian coup, the prophetic solidarity of the Churches was not as evident as in 1987. The first statement on the events of May 19th came the next day when Methodist Church General Secretary Rev. Dr. Ilaitia Tuwere strongly condemned the civilian coup and associated looting in
By the following week, newspaper reports contained more statements from the Fiji Council of Churches and church leaders, calling for peace and calm as well as condemning the coup. There was coverage of the daily peace vigil at the Holy Trinity Anglican church. As the hostage crisis continued for the next month with more statements from the churches calling for an end to the crisis and support for first the President of Fiji and then after his stepping down, the military. The Methodist church, in particular was trying to distance itself from the coup makers, having earlier looked like was supporting them. Their defence was that they were providing pastoral counselling to the rebels in Parliament. This was an issue for the Anglican Church, Roman Catholic Church and the Salvation Army, who as members of the Fiji Council of Churches:
….wanted to take a united stand against the activities of those involved in the coup but were frustrated by the leaders of the
A lack of prophetic voice in the crises in 2000 when compared to 1987 is discernable. In 1987, there were common statements by the churches condemning the coup and calling for immediate release of the government. In 2000, the churches did not make common statements until the Fiji Council of Churches was criticised for its silence and began to raise its voice after almost a week. The Lund Principle of the World Council of Churches, Faith and Order Commission states that, “churches do not say separately, what they can say together,” in order to maintain solidarity and a visible unity of the Church Universal. According to Yabaki:
The churches have reached a point of maturity in their journey towards unity where they have been able to agree on an understanding of scripture, doctrine, baptism, to the issue of trafficking of women and unmasking hypocrisy and speaking to each other and together, as in the case of the Fiji Council of Churches and the Assembly of Christian Churches in Fiji.
There is also a danger that by not speaking out on injustice and tyranny, the church, in its silence, may be seen as making a statement: that it is supporting the status quo.
For the Church to have a prophetic voice in the Fiji Islands, therefore, means speaking the truth, in love, to the issues of injustice, poverty, of peace, of making the church home for everybody in the household of God and being concerned about society. In a multicultural and pluralistic society, the Church has a particular mission to communicate the Gospel to that society. Therefore to be able to read the ‘signs of the times’ might entail having to do research on issues of morality such as homosexuality, or social injustice such as privatisation of water supply. A church with a prophetic voice, as Nathan, Jeremiah and Micah, must communicate with people in power in a way that challenges them about the use of power, about peacemaking and peace building.
Ernst calls for the Church to engage in a fourfold task to interpret the signs find solutions to the challenges of our times:
Reconstruction, in an attempt to identify and acknowledge the kinds of changes that have taken place and have negatively affected the lives of people;
Critique, to uncover ideological underpinnings and connections in order to unmask how economic and political power is maintained;
Denunciation, by assuming the prophetic role of identifying sources of evil and oppression;
Resistance, by mobilizing those who are oppressed;
Advocacy, by joining in solidarity in the struggle or in the promotion of specific projects in specified areas.
The prophetic church needs to know how to speak to and about power in its own way, being biblical and informed by the power of the Spirit. The prophetic church is a critique of power, of how power is used in the world.
 “Burning, looting shocks church,” in The Fiji Times, (Saturday,
 “Methodists stay out,” in The Fiji Times, (Tuesday,
 “Bishop calls for prayer,” in The Fiji Times, (Wednesday,
 Tanya McCutchan, “Repent, looters told,” in The Fiji Times (Wednesday,
 “Churches unite against crimes” in The Fiji Times, (Thursday,
 Organised by the National Council of Women in
 Lynda Newland, “
 Yabaki, Interview.
 Yabaki, Interview.
 Manfred Ernst, “Conclusion: The Role of the Church and Christians in a Globalized World,” in Globalization and the Re-Shaping of Christianity in the