22 May 2019, Malua, Samoa. Reverend Elder Lucky Richard Slade and his wife Terri Leutu Slade retired from the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (EFKS) yesterday after 46 years of service.
Eleven EFKS faifeau were declared pensioners (penisione) at a special service yesterday upon reaching the compulsory retirement age of 70.
Notable amongst the pensioners was Reverend Elder Lucky Slade who had graduated from Malua in 1973, and retires after 46 years of service.
Reverend Elder Slade acknowledged God as their source of strength throughout their years of service to the Church, and in leading the EFKS parish at Te Atatu peninsula in West Auckland, for 35 of those years.
“O le vi’iga lava ia e fa’afoi i Le Atua ona e talitonu le loto o ia lava e toatasi na taitaia maia i maua mai lena taimi, seia oo mai i lenei taimi.
“Tele tausaga o galulue i totonu o le Ekalesia, ma e fa’afetaia ai o ia ona o lana ta’ita’iga alofa ma ana fa’amanuiaga e tele mo i maua ma le tina.
“E eseese lava valaauina o le tagata ma a mae’a ona tatou faia se galuega, ona tatou fa’apea ane lea, o i matou lava o ni auauna le aoga ma le fa’atauva’a.”
Reflecting on their journey Reverend Slade said it was not an easy one, as they had started from humble beginnings.
When they were called to serve the EFKS Te Atatu in 1984, there were very few churches established in New Zealand, with only one matagaluega (geographical groupings of parishes).
“Ina ua vala’auina maua e ma te galulue i Niu Sila e le’i faigofie, sa tele lava lu’itau sa iai, ae ma te le’i fa’avaivai ai.
“E ma te o atu i Niu Sila e tasi lava le matagaluega sa iai i le na vaitaimi; o le taimi nei ua 3 Matagaluega tetele, 77 aulotu from the top of New Zealand all the way down to Invercargill, ua 77 aulotu.
“O le taimi nei o a’u o le taitaifono o le nofo faatasi o matagaluega ia e 10, e toasefulu matou toeaiina ma ou te taitaifono ai i le faatasiga na e tuufaatasi ai le EFKS i Niu Sila atoa.”
The Church in New Zealand has since grown exponentially with 10 matagaluega and 77 parishes across the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Reverend Slade currently Chairs an umbrella body representing all EFKS Churches across the whole of New Zealand.
Reverend Elder Slade recalled their first Christmas service at Te Atatu New Zealand, held in open air under a skyline of moon and stars because Te Atatu did not have a church building or a hall.
“I le ma Kerisimasi muamua lava i Te Atatu sa fai ai i fafo i le vao, i le susulu manaia o le masina ma le fepulafi mai o fetu.
“E le’i iai se fale ae o le taimi fo’i lena o lae ma te fou atu i Niu Sila e ma te le’i iloa lelei e maua ala, ma e le’i masani lelei fo’i i le fa’agaioiga o mea i totonu o le atunu’u.”
Reverand Elder Slade said that he and his wife Terri prayed and fasted, asking God to guide them as they establish the Church in Te Atatu.
“Sa fa’apea ona fa’amanuia mai Le Atua ma ia aumaia ai se fanua tele lava e fausiaina ai le Ekalesia, lea la e o’o mai lava i le taimi nei o lo’o iai lava le Ekalesia i lea nofoaga.
Te Atatu EFKS had started by purchasing a block of land along the main peninsula; 472 Te Atatu Road. Over the years of development Te Atatu added a Church building, a hall, a pastor’s residence as well as a car park.
Upon Reverend Slade’s retirement 35 years on, Te Atatu EFKS owns 472, 474, 476 and 478 Te Atatu Road in a prime development area of the West Auckland peninsula.
“I le 10 tausaga muamua lava o le ma galulue ai iina, sa vaaia lava fa’amanuiaga a Le Atua e ala i lona foaiina mai o se fale tapua’i, o le fale o le fa’afeagaiga, o le hall tele lava e fa’aaogaina i galuega a Le Atua, ma le ka paka.”
Despite the challenges they had faced, Reverend Elder Slade said that the most blessed part of the work is healing souls and helping people with their daily walk with God.
“Saving one soul for the Lord is the most blessed part of our journey,” he said.
“Throughout our Ministry, that was the main thing we thrived on, to fish for more souls for the Lord and his Ministry.
“We believe in the Aoga Faifeau as the first classroom for our youth, that is where they can be taught and molded into becoming good people;
“So we start with our young ones;
“And we as faifeau, we also have to listen to our youth,” said Reverend Slade.
Under the guidance of Lucky and Terri Slade, the EFKS Te Atatu Youth recorded a 12-song music CD “Fa’afetai le Atua” which won the Best Pacific Gospel Artist award at the 2018 NZ Pacific Music awards. The album was also nominated as a finalist for the Best Gospel artist at the Vodafone NZ Music Awards.
Asked what’s next, Reverend Elder Slade said that his time behind the pulpit may be over, however, they still feel that there are other ways to reach out to people in need.
As an example they have started a Ministry that reaches out to the homeless and the many people seen living underneath bridges across the city in Auckland.
“We are focusing on families now,” he said.
“O le taimi nei o la ua amata e la’u fanau, ona o e fesoasoani ma ave mea’ai mo tagata e le o i ai ni mea e nonofo ai, ma i latou o lo’o nonofo i lalo o auala laupapa i Niu Sila.’
“Ua uma lo’u taimi i luga o le pulelaa, o le taimi nei o le a’apa atu i a’i latou o lo’o manaomia le fesoasoani.
“My desire to serve and reach out to our people is still strong and that is why we came up with this mission.”
Reverend Elder Lucky Slade graduated in 1973 and served in the Church administration until he was appointed Director of Education for the Congregational Christian Church schools in 1980. He held this post until their call to serve in New Zealand in 1984.
Reverend Slade served on various committees throughout the years until 2011 when he was promoted to Toeaina; or head of the geographical district of parishes for their Pulega. Reverend Elder Slade retires as a member of the peak governing board of EFKS; the Komiti of Faifeau Toeaina Faatonu.
The Faifeau Toeaina Faatonu comes from the villages of Salailua and Fogapoa in Savaii; and Sapunaoa, Leauvaa, Saanapu and Safaatoa in Upolu.
He married Terri Leutu Slade nee Sioa of Matautu, Saleilua and Sataua in October 1975. They moved to Te Atatu as members of the EFKS church in Vaivase-Tai and spiritual children of the late Reverend Vavae Toma.
Reverend Elder Lucky Slade is the grandson of Mavaega Slade FS, who had served as an EFKS faifeau for the Church in Afega.
As a retirement treat Reverend Elder Slade said he and Terri have made plans with some of their retired friends to take a 21 day cruise ship tour.
They will return to continue their work in the mission that has been started by his children.
“A fo’i mai loa ia ona fa’aauau lea o le maua galuega alofa lea ua amatamea ai le fanau.”