Adventists in Victoria, Australia, are mourning the loss of Pastor Eddie Erika, who is being remembered for his selfless leadership and generous spirit. Pastor Erika, who passed away at the age of 75 earlier this week, leaves behind a legacy of service and community impact.
Pastor Erika made a significant contribution to the growth of the Adventist Church in Melbourne, playing a key role in establishing a network of Samoan churches across the city.
“Pastor Erika has left a very significant legacy,” said Christina Hawkins, former South Pacific Division Discipleship Ministries Team member.
“Most people don’t know that between Pastor Eddie Erika and then followed up by Pastor Tui Fanene, eight churches were planted across Melbourne with only one pastor. [It’s] one of the only real case studies of an elder/lay-led movement of planting churches we have in Australia.”
It was such a significant case study that in 2021, the Discipleship Ministries Team commissioned a video to highlight this innovative approach to disciple-making.
“Eddie was one of few Samoan pastors that addressed head-on the hierarchy structure of the Samoan culture,” Mrs Hawkins added. “His ministry approach was very New Testament and early church in its nature and approach and methodology.”
In a 2014 interview with Ministry magazine, Pastor Erika expressed his discomfort at the traditional church leadership structure, where the pastor is at the top of the hierarchical pyramid.
After reading Philippians 2:5-8 and being inspired by Jesus’ example of servant leadership, Pastor Erika encouraged a team mindset. He initiated a rotation of church elders as team leaders and promoted a collaborative approach. “The idea was to break the concept of hierarchy,” Pastor Erika told Ministry magazine, “to move away from a structure that everyone was trying to climb.”
President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Victoria, Pastor Graeme Christian, acknowledged Pastor Erika’s significant impact on the Samoan Adventist Church network. “His enthusiasm and focus were clear. His passing has come as a great shock to us all,” said Pastor Christian.
Along with his ministry work, Pastor Erika was a passionate ADRA volunteer who committed himself to serving his community.
In a heartfelt message on the ADRA Australia Facebook page, Conference ADRA director for Victoria, Rebecca Auriant, remembered Pastor Erika as “the most humble, kind and generous man . . . Eddie, Eds, my friend and mentor. I will miss you dearly. You showed me the value of grace and you resembled grace and compassion to those less fortunate. Our ADRA family is better because of you, because of the special way you included and showed love to people from all backgrounds. I will never forget our chats, the laughter, what you taught me and how the world is a better place because of you. Rest in the Lord Eds, until that glorious morning—where there will be no more pain or mourning.”
Pastor Erika is survived by his wife Heta, three children Solomon, Steven and Iunita, and 11 grandchildren.