THE SDA CHURCH IN LAUTOKA
The SDA Church was established in Lautoka in 1957 under the pastorship of Elder Miller and Elder Peni Tavodi Nakasamai. From that humble beginning, the church has grown into 6 worship communities - Lautoka Central Church (the original), Lautoka Hindi Speaking Church, Lagilagi Church and three church companies of Natokowaqa, Waiyavi and Lautoka English speaking.
A Brief History of Lagilagi Church
The Lagilagi Church Company is a small group of the Lautoka Central Church. It was started in August 1986 and its establishment is an indication of growth in the SDA Church in Lautoka, and the determination of the members of the group to contribute to the Lords work.
In January 1986 some members of the Bands at Saru, Navutu, Rifle Range and Field 40, suburbs of Lautoka, thought it convenient and to be more effective in their religious work, if members combined together in one locality in their regular mid-week evening prayer meetings. In one of the band meetings in February 1986, a senior member raised the idea of establishing a church on a permanent basis. The idea found enthusiastic support.
In early March 1986, the group approached their District Leader, Mr Aisea Vaciloa and indicated their firm intentions to establish a separate church, and if a piece of land could be found for the purpose. This intention was communicated to the Mission Headquaters at Suvavou and a formal request was submitted to the Housing Authority for the allocation of a religious site for this group in the Authority's development in the Saru-Tavakubu area. On the 23rd April 1986, the formal separation of the Lagilagi Church company from the Lautoka Central Church was established with the leadership of Mr Akeai Raseva. There were about 10 families' altogether. Church member's increases due to baptism where 15 were baptised in 1986, 35 in 1987, 53 in 1988 and 60 in 1989. These were during the evangelistic meeting of Pr Sepeti in 1987, Pr Swendon in 1988 and Pr Seu in 1989. Of course, while all this was going on, the group was ceaseless in their prayer asking the Lord for His guidance and assistance in their intention.
On February 2, 1987, the Housing Authority allocated to the SDA Church ¼ acre religious sites at Tavakubu: it was this site that was allocated to the Lagilagi Church Company by Pastor Sepeti Titoko, then District Director for the development of a permanent church. Meanwhile, the groups continue to meet in the temporary shelter adjacent to Akeai Raseva's home. A Planning Committee was formed to plan the construction of the permanent church building on the land. A Fund-raising Committee was also formed which, after a concerted drive, managed to collect $12,000.
After the second of the two evangelistic meeting in 1987, the group began to worship in a temporary church building on the land at Tavakubu, the site of Lagilagi Church today.
The group became an organized church on January 20, 1990 with Akeai Raseva appointed as the Head Elder and Isikeli Tamanisau as the assistant. At this point in time there were approximately 500 baptised members of the SDA Church in the Lautoka area. This meant that over the 33 years that the church existed in Lautoka, an everage of 15 souls were baptized annually.
In 1991, the temporary church building was dismantled to allow the commencement of the construction of the present building. The first group to work on this building was a group from Australia which is called "Fly and Build" and which was led by Bro Marvin. Invaluable help also came from local church members who helped in various miscellaneous tasks. Lady member of the church provided catering services. It was not uncommon for these devoted people to work up to 10p.m.
In June of 1991, church members finally started worshipping inside the partly finished church building with Apenisa Laweloa as the Head Elder, and Akeai Raseva and Isikeli Tamanisau the assistants. However, the building still could not be dedicated since the group still owed around $18,000 to the Fiji Mission.
With the members agreeing to fund the work needed to complete the church, Apisalome Vuadreu then promised to pay the outstanding amount to the Fiji Mission. The fund-raising committee under the leadership of Netani Waqanivere and Apisalome Vuadreu then appealed to members to raise $8,000. This amount was collected by individual bands within the Lagilagi church, supplemented by donations from Mana church and numerous church members from all over Fiji. After all the work was done, this church called "Lagilagi" which is translation of "Beautiful" in Acts 3:2 finally became what it is today.
On May 8, 1994, Pr Roger Nixon, the President of the church finally dedicated the Lagilagi Church, which was then under the leadership of Pr Kaminieli Dau as the District Pastor, Tevita Sukabula as the Head Elder, Isikeli Tamanisau and Marika Tukana as the assistants and Pr Avenai Turaganikeli Ravosai the first ever to look after the Lagilagi Church.
Today, all the members of Lagilagi Church can attest to how God has powerfully led in the development of this building. They can only say Amen to the words of Psalm 127:1 EXCEPT THE LORD BUILD THE HOUSE, THEY LABOUR IN VAIN THAT BUILD IT.
To God be all Honour and Glory.