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Archbishop David Vunagi presented SBD$21,000 to Kolina District Priest Fr. Edward Kalea in exchange for the communitys gifts of local food and pigs
Photo: ACOM/Rolland Gito
Photo No. : P090803-1
Click for enlarged photo

ACOM and Kolina Community restore broken relationship
August 3, 2009

[Melanesian Messenger - Melanesia] The Anglican Church of Melanesia and the community of Kolina on South Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands last Saturday held a peace reconciliation ceremony with exchange of gifts, public confessions and pleas for forgiveness.

An initiative by the Church, it was to mark an end to years of grievances, mistrust and grudges held by the people of Kolina against the Church and a restoration of a friendly and harmonious relationship.

The people of Kolina alleged that the Church had directly involved in the pains and inhuman treatments they suffered during the ethnic tension years from 1999 to 2003.

The involvement of an Anglican priest as Chaplain to the Solomon Islands Police Force and the provision of transport by the government to members of the Melanesian Brotherhood then, have raised suspicions which led to them questioning the position of the Church.

However, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia The Most Rev. David Vunagi who led the delegation from the Church to the reconciliation programme at Kolina clarified the position of the Church in his address;

“Today we gather here as one people who are created in the image of God to participate in this fellowship of peace and reconciliation ceremony. During the ethnic tension in 1999 – 2003 this nation of ours, Solomon Islands, went through a difficult time. People were suspicious of each other and not sure who to trust because of the hurts, pains and the inhuman treatments they received.

The only institution that tried to hold the country together at that time was the Church. It is in that regard that my party and I are here on behalf of the Anglican Church of Melanesia to offer an olive branch to the people of Kolina and the surrounding villages.

In that I mean we come here today to humbly offer an initiative to restore a friendly and harmonious relationship between the members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia who live in this part of Guadalcanal and the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

Since the occupation of this area by the Solomon Islands Police Force during the ethnic tension, the Anglican Church of Melanesia had been misunderstood and had been questioning the position of the Church.

Now I stand here today to say with clear conscience that at no time did the Anglican Church of Melanesia conspire against anybody during the ethnic tension. The only thing that I know the Church did at that time was to allow the clergy and members of the Religious Communities especially the members of the Melanesian Brotherhood to be active peacemakers to those who were affected by the activities of the ethnic tension.

Today we are going to witness the exchange of gifts as tokens of our thanks and appreciation for each other as people of God. I am please to be with you here and especially for the opportunity to perform this ceremony in which compensation will be given an taken as a way of saying that we are all longing for peace to be established among us as one people in the Church of God.

We know that peace cannot be attained through arguments and by blaming each other but it can only be attained by our willingness to listen to each other and accept whatever it may cost for the sake of peace. We all know that peace is not cheap.

However, the giving of compensation by the Anglican Church of Melanesia in this case, is not that the Church is guilty in any way. Rather it is a pastoral initiative to reach out to those who had reservations about the Church to come forward so that we can share the truth and set the recoprd straight.

I am very grateful for the clergy, chiefs, elders, men, women, youth and all good Christian people in this community and the neighborhood for your cooperation and willingness to engage in conversation and listening in order to attain peace. Thank you very much for that.

After this ceremony, I believe there will be no impediment between the members of the Church in this area and the Anglican Church of Melanesia. Its important that we must forgive and forget the things of the past and look to the future with the sense of purpose to institute peace, unity, trust and confidence which all of us must see and enjoy especially at this time when Guadalcanal is preparing to become a diocese of its own in the not too distant future.

I wish to finish by saying that Jesus prayed, “Father may they be one as you and I are one.” So may the oneness and unity that Jesus prayed for be practiced and seen in this community, in the Church and in this nation Solomon Islands.

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge of God and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The delegation from the Church also include the Justice Reconciliation and Peace Coordinator Fr. Mark Graham; Mission Secretary of the Melanesian Board of Mission Fr. Patteson Worek; Evangelism and Renewal Coordinator Fr. Patteson Ngalihesi; History Officer Fr. Caulton Medobu; Vicar General of the Diocese of Central Solomons Fr Derek Vagi and members of the four Religious Communities; the Melanesian Brotherhood, Sisters of the Church, Sisters of Melanesia and Franciscan Brothers.

Hundreds of people from in and around Kolina were part of the reconciliation programme.