December 8, 2006 Suva, Fiji …. [Allen Steele/ANN Staff]

Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fiji have joined other Christian denominations in condemning military commander Frank Bainimarama's military coup. In a swift takeover this week, Bainimarama ousted the democratically elected government under prime minister Laisenia Qarase.

Church leaders in Fiji report that so far there has been no physical violence and that the citizenry have been able to maintain business as usual. They have appealed to the island nation's leaders to reject the use of violence in resolving the conflict.

The coup followed a week of school graduations after students had safely returned to their homes. Military roadblocks have been set up, but according to locals are not restricting transportation between the major cities of Nandi, Lautoka and Suva.

Pastor Tom Osborne, president of the church's Fiji Mission, said the church in Fiji is very concerned about the developing situation and has taken a proactive role, calling for dialogue, justice and forgiveness to restore peace and stability to the country.

As a way forward, Osborne is urging those involved in the coup at the national level to “exercise a ministry of reconciliation and act as ambassadors of goodwill, openness and forgiveness.”

In a statement released to the Fijian press and government early in the conflict, Osborne said, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church urges the government authorities involved to push for an early end to this current crisis on the basis of Christian moral and ethical principles of human rights, and good faith negotiations that are fair to all concerned and which may lead to better relationships.”

In addition, the Adventist church in Fiji asked all its members, along with the faith community in government, to pray for divine assistance in restoring peace and goodwill to the nation. In the event violence does erupt, the government has urged citizens of other nationalities working in the country to evacuate.

With a membership of some 25,000 in Fiji, the Adventist church is one of the country's leading denominations. Church officials there say protracted military action could disrupt communication and transportation to Fiji, which acts as headquarters for the church's Trans Pacific Union and ministers to a number of island countries in the South Pacific.

Pastor Lawrence Tanabose, president of the church's Trans Pacific Union, maintains the church in Fiji will continue to appeal for “Christian principals to prevail during this crucial [period of] political tension.”

Copyright (c) 2006 by Adventist News Network.

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