|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
|2529: St Leonardís,
St Leonardís, Savusavu, Fiji.
Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia, Diocese
Small, concrete block construction, built in 1975. The full-height
glazed doors along each side are opened during services to let
in the breeze (very welcome in the humid tropics). The view
through the transparent east window is through coconuts and
garden to the sea at the end of the garden.
The core of the small Anglican community in this district is
Fijians descended from Solomon Islanders who were brought in
to work the coconut plantations in the 19th century, as well
as the descendants of the British plantation owners. Parishioners
are scattered through outlying farms. Because the local buses
run less frequently on Sundays, the youth group camp overnight
in the church hall every Saturday so they can be on time for
morning service. The church runs a kindergarten during the week,
evidenced by a shaded sandpit beside the church.
Savusavu, "the hidden paradise of Fiji", is a small,
relaxed, historic town of about 6000 people. It lies on the
southern coast of Vanua Levu, the second largest island of Fijiís
300 islands. The first European settlers in the district set
up coconut plantations in the 1860s, but in the last 20-30 years
their descendants have subdivided most of them for development
as resorts and/or for sale to expatriates from America or elsewhere.
Interestingly, one of the last remaining plantation owners is
in fact the Anglican Church. The small but sheltered harbour
hosts dozens of yachters from around the world, some of whom
return as settlers. A major tourist attraction is the world
class scuba diving offshore Ė JM Cousteau himself owns one of
the local resorts.
The celebrant was the Revd Aliki Ritalau, who had come specially
from a village elsewhere in Cakadrove province. The Revd Peni
Silikiwali, curate, preached, and liturgist Luisa Smith led
the prayers and most of the service. Members of the youth group
read all the lessons.
The date & time:
Easter Sunday, 31 March 2013, 9.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The church seats about 60, though more can overflow onto the
side verandahs. There were about 30 at the start, but by the
time the Sunday school and others had joined the main congregation
(for communion) it was at least 80 per cent full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. By the time we arrived, the entrance hymn was underway,
but a young lady greeted us outside. At the passing of the peace,
I think we shook hands with almost everyone else in the church.
And at the end of the service, before the notices, visitors
were invited to go the front and introduce themselves, which
Mrs T and I duly did.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was fit for purpose.
How would you describe the pre-service
We missed it, as we arrived during the opening (processional) hymn.
What were the exact opening words of the
After the opening procession, the liturgist said, "Welcome
to you all on this Easter day. And a special welcome to all
What books did the congregation use during the
A small booklet: Eucharistic Liturgy: An Extract from the
New Zealand Book of Common Prayer; a hymn book entitled
Hymns: Praise God. The latter is published by Lotu
Pasifika, and includes hymns in English, Fijian and Hindi. Several
people had their own Bibles (in English or Fijian language).
What musical instruments were played?
A youth named Darryl played guitar to accompany the hymns. There
was no separate choir; everyone sang in the strong and melodic
Pacific Islands manner.
Did anything distract you?
Various small children moved around through the service. One
was moving his legs so enthusiastically to the music that he
continually kicked me, but it was only gently and a sign of
his active participation in the service, so I let it pass.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Standard Anglican liturgy. Spoken, not chanted, but noticeably
inclusive in involving many worship leaders, including almost
all of the youth group in one role or other. There was neither
incense nor arm waving. All readings and prayers (except for
the actual eucharist) were delivered from a lectern at front
and centre of the nave. The hymns were mostly in English but
some were in Fijian, as was the sung Lordís Prayer. The highlight
came with the gospel reading in which one young lady read St
Johnís account of the Resurrection while the rest of the youth
group acted it out, with the tomb represented by a table with
a table cloth pulled away on one side (see photo, which shows
one of the disciples arriving).
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Although Father Peni was ordained only last year, his
preaching is excellent: well organised, clearly spoken and to
the point. He actually numbered his points ("firstly"
through to "fifthly"), and gave each of them first
in English and then (with more animation) in Fijian.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The resurrection of Jesus and its significance for us today
Ė it shows we can all have hope, even of life after death. What
can we learn from the fact that it was Mary to whom Jesus first
appeared? Firstly, she had faith even before obedience. Secondly,
it shows the importance that Jesus attached to the many women
in the circle around him Ė even in that patriarchal society.
(Which is one reason, he said, that he is proud to be part of
a church that ordains women, even in Fijiís patriarchal society.)
And the fact that the stone was rolled away showed Mary at a
glance that Jesus had done something special: he had risen from
the dead. Even though we donít have such an immediately visible
sign, we still have to carry the message of the Resurrection.
Which part of the service was like being in
The re-enactment of the finding of the empty tomb and the reappearance
of the living Christ. And that after a week of rain, the sun
shone brightly through the east window on this day of resurrection
Ė like Jesus, the sun had new life!
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
In the land of laid-back "Fiji time", it was surprising
and embarrassing to discover that the service was already under
way when we arrived only a minute or two after the listed time.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Since we were obviously visitors, and had been game to stand
up and introduce ourselves, people were queuing up to say hello
to us with a friendly smile before we even had a chance to leave
our pew. One or two even said that they had recognised us from
when they were visiting our "home" church elsewhere
How would you describe the after-service
The overnight camp of the youth group includes parish lunch
after Sunday service, to which we were duly invited. We declined,
though, as we had another engagement.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 We felt very comfortable with both the worship style
and the people of the congregation.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The re-enactment of the disciples finding the empty tomb.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.