MANA: God Before Us
Steve S. Maga
Time & Date
Event Dates:August 04, 2018 - August 07, 2018
ET - Eastern Time
Wesley Theological Seminary and The United Methodist Building, Washington
The Pacific Islanders Young Adult Leadership Development Program called, MANA (in polynesian language, it means power) which will be in Washington, D.C. this August.
Mana is a foundation of the Polynesian worldview, a spiritual quality with a supernatural origin and a sacred, impersonal force. To have mana implies influence, authority, and efficacy—the ability to perform in a given situation. The quality of mana is not limited to individuals; peoples, governments, places and inanimate objects may also possess mana, and its possessors are accorded respect.
The MANA Leadership program focuses on the youth and young adult development. The existing Pacific Islander ministry has provided more than a spiritual home for the first-generation people. The church has also been the center of communal life thus ensuring that there is a continuity of cultural traditions, customs, and practices.
The benefit of this reality is seen in the lives of the first-generation Pacific Islanders. The church becomes a place of security where one is nurtured spiritually and socially. In most instances, the Pacific Island church can meet the spiritual and social needs of its adult members but fails to meet the needs of the second generation.
According to the data gathered through the youth focus groups it was clear that while the first generation found direction within the four walls of the church, the youth and young people have sometimes wandered seeking a deep need for belonging and affirmation. The second generation feels rejected on several levels because the cultural clashes occurring from home, schools, workplaces, separate them from being different. Due to the circumstances, these second generation seeks destructive means such as gangs, substance abuse, violence, and sex, to feel accepted within their groups.
The focus of the leadership development in this area will be directed to the specific needs of youth and young adults as noted above. As a matter of necessity, it differs from the training that is directed at the clergy and laity of the church.
On a more positive note, the training will ensure that second and third generation Pacific Islanders will maintain their denominational identity. The current trend is that the young people are members, and this is consistent with the Pacific Island traditional norms, which dictates that young people follow the practices of their parents until they leave home or get married.
Hence, it is more critical to provide this sort of training as it will bring much needed clarity and meaning to the practice that these young people are obligated to endure. The result will be that the young people will find that the church is relevant to their life experience, and not something that is completely removed from their life but must be endured because of the traditional obligation of obedience to parents.
Last year, we held our event in August in Atlanta and we were lodged at Emory University and held our plenary and workshops at the Candler School of Theology. We were also able to be a part of a worship service at GBGM headquarters, which commissioned the missionaries to go and serve in their assignments from everywhere to everywhere.
At the time, we didn’t anticipate a second event, however the Atlanta event was so successful that we are having a second event at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington on Aug 4-7, 2018.
Why the East Coast? Well, the short answer is that the majority of the PI community resides in the west, so the idea was to invite the young people to an unfamiliar setting and also give them some exposure to new settings and staying in the theological setting rather than a hotel to offer them an opportunity to see students in action.
We again are inviting 80 to 100 participants to D.C. Some are discerning their call to ministry, other possible leadership roles within their faith circle or even communities. We find that PI’s do better among their own peers when it comes to training because those around them can totally relate to their own situation, although they come from Samoa, Tonga and or Fiji but the cultural styles are pretty similar.
Local Churches Pacific Islander Ministries