Free Wesleyan Church
The Free Wesleyan Church (FWC; Tongan: Siasi Uesiliana Tau‘ataina ‘o Tonga) is the largest Methodist denomination in Tonga and its state church. The royal family has had a close connection with the church ever since 1845 and, still, many members of the royal family are prominent members; in these factors the FWC can thus be considered a de facto state church.
In 1924, Sālote Tupou III wanted to combine the official state church of Tonga (Free Church of Tonga), established by her great grandfather George Tupou I, with the Methodist church (governed by the Methodist body in Australia). The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Siasi Uesiliana Tau'ataina 'o Tonga) was founded as a sovereign nation, in the process of promoting its sovereignty abroad by means of bilateral treaties with Western nations should have an independent (Wesleyan) Church.[clarification needed]
Preachers in the FWC system must be ordained ministers, a process that takes between three and five years, and can involve many stages of approval and apprenticeship. However, ministers are not required to attend theological seminary, because often doing so in the past created a teacher shortage in the church schools while the candidates were attending seminary.
The Free Wesleyan Church also runs 30% of the schools in Tonga. As in other schools, FWC schools usually do not have class on Fridays, but instead use the day for school cleanup; all school facilities in Tonga are maintained by the students. School uniforms are the church's colors: royal blue and white.
The Current President of the Church is 'Ahio and Secretary General is Tevita Koloa'ia Havea. They both took their office in the Church Conference of 2009. The Church has been led by the following Church Leaders:
- 1st President was Setaleki Manu (1924–1925)
- 2nd President was Rodger Page (1925–1946)
- 3rd President was Alfred Mckay (1946–1956)
- 4th President was Ronald Woodgate (1956–1961)
- 5th President was Howard Secomb (1961–1963)
- 6th President was George Clemens Harris (1963–1969)
- 7th President was Justin Gooderham (1969–1971)
- 8th President was Sione 'Amanaki Havea (1971–1977)
- 9th President was Uiliami Huluholo Mo'ungaloa (1977–1982)
- 10th President was Sione 'Amanaki Havea (1982–1992)
- 11th President was Sione Lepa To'a (1992–1993)
- 12th President was Lopeti Taufa (1993–1998)
- 13th President was 'Alifaleti Malakai Mone (1998–2009)
- 14th President is 'Ahio (2009–present)
- Tonga on the 'NET - Christianity and The Kingdom of Tonga: Free Wesleyan Church Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
- "Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist Church in Tonga)". World Council of Churches. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
- Ernst, Manfred (2012-04-01). "Changing Christianity in Oceania: a Regional Overview". Archives de sciences sociales des religions (157): 29–45. doi:10.4000/assr.23613. ISSN 0335-5985.
- "Training-School at Tonga" (PDF). The Wesleyan Juvenile Offering: A Miscellany of Missionary Information for Young Persons. Wesleyan Missionary Society. IX: 60. June 1852. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
- 2011 Statistical Data on FWC Educational Institutions