White Sunday programmes in Samoa usually involves on-stage performances by children reciting their tauloto of rehearsed bible verses, or parts in plays, songs and skits for parents, who sit watching their babies from their seats.
Not this year at Apia Harvest Centre Church – where parents arrived on Sunday morning to a transformed church in a classroom-like set up.
Parents were made to participate this year. There were desks placed inside the church equipped with crayons, pages of exercise activities and crowns for children and parents to wear – in celebration of the day’s theme: “God is Sovereign”.
The crèche, where the Children’s Ministry team usually look after the “Little Lambs” class, was brought into the church and set up at the front corner next to the stage.
Apia Harvest Centre Church is led by Senior Pastor Amosa and Sara Pouoa. Pastor Amosa says he was open to the idea when it was presented by his Children’s Ministry leaders; Mataafa Keni and Laufālē’ainā Lesa.
“We have been so blessed this morning by the program that has taken us outside of our normal White Sunday routine,” said Senior Pastor Amosa.
“We saw and experienced what our Children’s Ministry leaders go through every Sunday with our children, because they have brought their activities here to us..
“The interaction with parents made it such an enjoyable morning for parents as well as the children,” said Pastor Amosa.
“The baby crèche was set up right infront of us, and we could see that it is not easy for our Children’s Ministry leaders and teachers to keep the young children occupied for the whole time; but they worked so hard to keep the children engaged in activities, and also to maintain a safe environment for them”.
The AHCC Children’s Ministry leaders decided to change things up this year, and in addition to the recited Bible verses, made sure parents participated in activities with their children.
Every Sunday at Apia Harvest Centre Church, children head out to activities in the church hall, just before the sermon starts. They then have their own program of learning about the Word of God, while parents get to listen to the sermon children-free.
“We wanted to give parents a glimpse of what it is like in Children’s Ministry every Sunday,” said Mataafa.
“The truth is, it’s White Sunday every week for these kids.. we have lots of fun activities, and they often get snacks and ice cream as a treat at the end..
“So we wanted to try something different this year.. the whole idea was to bring the Children’s Ministry to the parents and involve them in the activities.. We wanted to break out of the norm where kids nervously stand upfront here reciting verses, while parents sit and watch,” said the Children’s Ministry leader.
And so parents at Apia Harvest Centre Church were asked to join in on activities such as the prayer for healing, the call to pray for anyone whose had a birthday throughout the week, even the teaching of the Word, and creating arts and crafts that illustrated the theme..
“We wanted parents to experience all those things this morning,” said Mataafa.
“There was nothing forced or put on as a show,” he added, “just everything that comes naturally to the kids.. we wanted to just show and tell it as it is”.
“That’s why you saw me pull out the seevae kosokoso at one time,” he laughed, “because there can also be tears at Children’s Ministry sometimes.”
“Each week we focus on an Attribute of God.. such as God is Love, God is Faithful, He is Merciful and so on.. and this week in our program, the theme is, God is Sovereign..”
Mataafa taught on the theme, just as he would have if it were a normal week of Children’s Ministry in the hall. Except this time, parents were also being taught the lesson, asked questions about the topic and made to engage alongside their children.
The service began with a hip Praise and Worship song by the children to rev things up. One element that stood out was the fact that children not wearing white were embraced without anyone even mentioning it or battering an eyelid.
The call for healing was an emotional part of the service. Led by Youth Ministry Leader Ainuū Motu Seufale, the children called out to anyone in the congregation who wasn’t feeling well to come down to the altar for healing.
Young children laying hands on the elders of the Church as Pastor Amosa delivered a healing prayer, was an emotional scene.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere that relaxed both parents and children, and as we saw, the children enjoyed playing out their roles..and didn’t have to be reminded of what to do”.
Eight students graduated from the Children’s Ministry on Sunday. They were given certificates and Senior Pastor Amosa said a special prayer for them. Next year they move on to the Youth Ministry.
“Our eight children graduating this year end one journey and begin another as they prepare to join the Youth,” said Pastor Amosa. “So we ask our church family to offer them support..”
“We praise God for this annual celebration of our children. They are the future of the Church, and of God’s work here on earth. God bless all the children of Samoa,” adds Pastor Amosa.
Apia Harvest Centre Church is located at the heart of Apia next to Sunrise Restaurant at Togafuafua. Sunday morning service starts at 9:30am with Sunday School teaching for children and adults, followed by morning tea at 10am before the main service begins with Praise and Worship at 10:30am. Young Adults Minsitry is on Thursday nights and Youth is on Friday nights. Visit and like the church Facebook page for more information.