Pastor Eric Toleafoa has been appointed the new president of the Cook Islands Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
He is taking over from Pastor Eliu Eliu, who is retiring after more than 11 years in the role. The appointment was made during last week’s meetings of the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC) executive committee.
Pastor Toleafoa is currently discipleship ministries director for the Mission. He has also served the Church as youth ministry director, family and children’s ministries director, as a school chaplain and local church pastor. He is married to Apii and they have five adult sons.
Contemplating his new role, Pastor Toleafoa said, “The initial thought was a picture of a huge mountain . . . then I said ‘Lord, You have called me here, now show me the way.’
“I’m looking forward to the growing experiences in this role as we collaborate together with God in this discipleship journey.”
Initially he will be focused on consultation: “A consultation process needs to take place with leaders, churches, schools and various committees, ensuring firstly, that we are all watching the same channel, and secondly, that we are on the right track,” he said.
“The question our team will need to think around is, how can we equip, empower and engage people who come to our churches, schools, even in our communities—and whom we come in contact with every day—to trust, follow and share Jesus as we collaborate with God in this discipleship movement?”
In announcing the appointment, NZPUC president Pastor Eddie Tupa’i paid tribute to outgoing president Pastor Eliu for his “outstanding ministry contribution to the work of God for 41 years”.
“Though he now moves into retirement, I am sure he will keep serving God using his many talents to bless the church and community,” Pastor Tupa’i said.
“Eliu and his wife Tetua are loved and appreciated for their passionate involvement in pastoral, youth, teaching and leadership ministries.”
South Pacific Division president Pastor Glenn Townend also thanked Pastor Eliu for his leadership: “He was a very respected leader in the Cook Islands community, a loved preacher and singer, a forward thinker.”