High Court ruling hands Vatuvonu Adventist High School back to the Church

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Vatuvonu Adventist High School.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fiji is giving praise to God following a decision by the High Court of Fiji that returns management and control of Vatuvonu Adventist High School  to the Church.

High Court Judge A L B Brito-Mutunayagam handed down his judgement on Friday (November 22) in the civil proceedings initiated by the Fiji government’s Ministry of Education against Vatuvonu Adventist High School and five trustees of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fiji.

Two significant aspects of the judgement are that an application by the Ministry of Education to take over management and control of the school was declined, thereby handing the school back to the Church. Secondly, the judge ordered that the appointment of a principal by the Ministry of Education must be someone “acceptable to the Church”.

Fiji Mission general secretary Pastor Joe Talemaitoga welcomed the judgement.

“It’s a good victory,” he said. “We praise God for the court’s decision and declaration.”

Pastor Talemaitoga said the Mission Executive Committee will meet in early December to consider the next steps for Vatuvonu, which closed on Friday (November 22) for the holidays, with classes resuming on January 13, 2020.

He thanked the many people who had supported and prayed for Vatuvonu (on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island) since the government commenced legal proceedings against the school and the Church on April 15. The orders blocked the Church’s ability to run the school, including having any say on the appointment of staff.

Matelia, Etuate and Brandon, with Dr Alipate Vakamocea, before commencing their final exam. (Credit: Facebook)

Meanwhile, Pastor Talemaitoga is also giving thanks to God after Fiji National University (FNU) approved three Adventist final-year medicine students—Etuate Logaivau, Matelita Waqatabu and Brandon Talota—the right to sit their final exam after sunset on Saturday (November 23).

Fiji Mission worked with FNU to provide logistics support, including the provision of meals and transport for supervising university staff.

“Fiji Mission thanks the Fiji National University for upholding religious freedom,” Pastor Talemaitoga said.

“We know and see our faithful God is moving. We praise Him for our young people, for His Sabbath, for opportunities to study, to witness and from whom all blessings flow.”