FOR the first time in more than a century, the Anglican Church in Tonga will have its own bishop. Although men with Tongan heritage – Bishop Jabez Bryce and Archbishop Dr Winston Halapua – have led the Diocese of Polynesia, Tonga has always fallen under the leadership of a primate based offshore. Last month Halapua – only the second Pacific islander to head the church since 1908 – announced he would step down in August 2018.
That means the Diocese of Polynesia’s Electoral College will meet over the next 13 months to choose a successor, most likely from priests from its Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and New Zealand congregations. A popular candidate is the Vicar of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Suva – the young, charismatic, Father Claude Fong-Toy.
There is also expected to be a push for a bishop from the ethnic Solomon island community to which the church has ministered since they were black birded in the 1800s to work on cotton and coconut estates in Fiji. Also in contention are women candidates Sereima Lomaloma and Amy Chambers who were among the first female priests ordained by the church in the Pacific.
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