Rarotonga will celebrate 200 years of Christianity today starting with a re-enactment scene of the time when Reverend John Williams of the London Missionary Society (LMS) sighted Rarotonga on July 25, 1823, in his bid to bring the Gospel to the island.
The island’s residents at the time were not friendly,
and the missionaries decided to leave. However, Tahitian missionary Papeiha,
who offered to stay behind to preach the word of the Gospel, tied a Bible to
his head and swam ashore.
The scenes of 1823 will be reenacted today to
celebrate the arrival of the Gospel two centuries ago.
At 8am this morning, the special Gospel delegation for
the Rarotonga “Arrival of Christianity Bicentennial Celebrations” will depart
Avatiu harbour on Vaka Paikea captained by Peia Patai, for Avarua harbour.
They will be met by a traditional Kiriti Marotai
welcoming ceremony at Avarua harbour led by Anautoa rangatira - Tuaine Unuia.
A guard of honour by uniformed organisations will line
the road which will be closed as the delegation parade towards Avaiki Tautau (next
to the Takuvaine Kapuanga meeting house).
At 10am the welcome and official service will start at
Avaiki Tautau, the procession will then move to the Takamoa Theological grounds
led by the brass band.
The main programme will start at the Takamoa grounds at
11am with the entry of the Vaka delegations starting with: Vaka Puaikura, Vaka
Te Au O Tonga and Vaka Takitumu.
The brass band will play the Cook Islands Christian
Church (CICC), Cook Islands and King’s national anthems followed by the theme
song by Ephraim Taokia and singers
CICC historian Tangata Vainerere will deliver the
historical presentation of the London Missionary Society (LMS) and the CICC church.
President of the CICC, Reverend Tuaine Ngametua will
lead the prayer service and messages followed by the re-enactment of Prophecies
before the arrival of Christianity to: Aitutaki, Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and
Presentations will be performed, praise and worship
and thanks and closing by Ken Ben, CICC secretary general elect, who is also the
organising committee chairman.