January 12, 2023 | by Kalesita Fa'asisila
Interim Bishop Sally Dyck presents certificates to those that recently completed the LSM course in Tongan.
From the Royal Chapel, First Palo Alto UMC on January 8, 2023, the Tongan Mission church communities gathered for their Annual New Year Combine Worship Service.
It was Baptism Sunday, and so the Holy Spirit led the procession in, bringing in the light. Following, were two rows of young people in praised dance while the full house of attendees sung, “Come into My Heart” in their native tongues. Dressed in their respective Tongan traditional attire, the young people praised danced from their row, side by side in the isle, while the Tongan Consulate and clergy members made their way up to front of the sanctuary.
A captured moment was witnessing the Chairperson, Reverend Sifa Hingano and Interim Bishop Sally Dyck, at the end of that line. No doubt, there were drops of joyful tears recalling the story of the Good Shepherd. Last and behind her sheep, Bishop Sally signals to the Chairperson to march on ahead of her. It was an awe moment as we recalled the gospel of John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep”. And so, Bishop Sally Dyck followed behind her brothers and sisters in Christ to the front of the altar and took up her designated seat as the guest of honor of the gatherings.
Tongan Mission churches consist of seventeen churches who provide worship services and programs in their native tongues. Nine of the churches attended with their choirs while others sent representatives, and a few were excused due to local commitments. Hymns and praises filled up the sanctuary as we listened to the words of prayers, reading of scriptures, and rounds of music from each of the attending churches. The presence of children, young people, men, and women in their colorful choir attires, brought the Baptism Sunday alive in our hearts and certainly throughout the sanctuary floor and up to the upper loft spaces. Perhaps even the neighbors may have heard the synchronism of the choirs seeping out into the crisp cold air and into their homes.
Baptism Sunday emerged with an extra excitement and high anticipation due to the presence of the guest of honor, music performances and presentations. It was a blessing for the people who participated in the Tongan LSM course to be recognized and receive their course certificates from Bishop Sally Dyck.
Tongan Consulate Sela Tukia shared “Joyful in gathering for the New Year with Bishop Sally Dyck. Very proud of the existence of the LSM in Tongan program." Rev. Sifa Hingano, Tongan Mission Chairperson said, “Joyous occasion to celebrate the New Year with the presence of Bishop Sally Dyck in our midst. Very happy with the certificate presentation”
Prayer and blessing of the new and continuing elected officers for 2023 by Bishop Sally was deeply moving. She extended her appreciation and thanked the officers for serving Christ and in their local churches. They were lifted in prayers of thanks and praises, acknowledging their journey to serve was not easy. Thus, inviting the Holy Spirit to bless them with faithfulness and imaginations.
In conclusion, Bishop Sally Dyck delivered her sermon theme, “Inner Strengths for Greater Outreach”. It was her first sermon in a community of Pacific Islanders. We were reminded, as people of God that we are a beloved child of God. Not only in our speaking the words and/or preaching the words, but we must also live it.
A reception dinner followed thereafter.
More about LSM course in Tongan
Lay Servant Ministry in Tongan emerged new on the program this year. LSM in Tongan courses is supported by the conference Leadership Development Office. The program instructors consist of clergy friends from varies conferences both outside and inside of California Nevada Conference. The clergy team serving from CalNev Conference are Rev. Sifa Hingano, ‘Ofa Haunga, Latu Toetu’u, Kalolaine Luvalu and Kata’ii Tapa. The connection of the United Methodist Churches and the United Women in Faith supplied these wonderful resources to the Tongan Mission church community. While the program had been running since 2021, California Nevada Conference officially adapted it in 2022. Certificate recognition were from the completion of courses taken up in August through November 2022 which included Basic, Preaching, Leading Worship, and Leading Public Prayers. The program is available to anyone who wish to participate in it thus counting credit toward paths of ministry. This resource supports and equips laity in serving.
Click here to learn more about our conference program on Lay Servant Ministries.