Independent State of Samoa
World Convention is currently building a global reference for the countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ Congregations. Of the 193 United Nations States, the Stone-Campbell Movement exists in 174. This listing includes other nations and territories, numbering 195 countries where there is at least one representation of our churches.
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Halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand in the south Pacific lie the islands of Samoa, sometimes known as Western Samoa. Consisting of two large islands and seven smaller islands the land mass is about 2,860 sq km (1,104 sq miles). The islands were believed to have been settled by Tongans around 1000 B.C. These islanders developed their own culture with strong emphasis in fishing, navigation, and religious architecture and monuments. The first European to the islands is thought to have been French explorer Louis Antoine de Bouganville who arrived in 1766. By the 1830s a mission was established by the London Missionary Society; late in the nineteenth century control over the islands was contested by Britain, Germany and the USA, all of which established commercial bases of operations. In 1889 a neutral monarchy was established but disputes over succession led Germany to take control of the islands in 1899. German lost control to New Zealand after the First World War. By 1962 Samoa gained full independence but recognizes a special friendship with New Zealand. Much of the economy of Samoa is based upon fishing, some agriculture and timber. Tourism is increasing. The government is a constitutional monarchy with a single legislative body known as the Legislative Assembly.
The population is near 230,000 with 99.7% of the people being Christians, 50% of which are associated with the London Missionary Society.
The Stone-Campbell Movement’s presence in Samoa is due to World Radio Broadcasts which were heard in American Samoa by Luaao Soli and was there converted. Upon returning to Samoa he established a congregation in Saleoga. Later a high chief (the primary cultural overseer and an extended family) was converted and as a result fifteen others were baptized. Ronald Coleman, who resides in American Samoa, has worked some with the churches in Western Samoa. A Samoan-speaking a cappella church in South Auckland, New Zealand sponsors an outreach in Western Samoa with some financial assistance from the New Plymouth church. In 1990 there were three a cappella Churches of Christ in Samoa with a total membership of about 46.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
Revised by Gary Holloway, January 3, 2014
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.