VIDEO: Congregant forced out of US Tongan church by police says he wanted ‘dictatorial’ to be stopped

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Police have forcefully removed a congregant from a Tongan First Free Methodist Church in the United States after he challenged reverend superintendent Samuela Fifita for being “dictatorial” in the way he ran the church.

Reverend Fifita recently called on Police to remove Peni Miloni Tu’itupou and his wife from the church in Redwood City, California as church members prepared for a prayer service.

The incident was captured on video by Tu’itupou’s wife and uploaded to Facebook earlier this month.

Tu’itupou claimed the election of Reverend Fifita’s wife as church treasurer was a conflict of interest that breached of the church’s disciplinary book, and the church’s financial statements were regularly presented either in an ambiguous or without explanation.

He also claimed some regular donations made by the church to the church headquarters were increased by Reverend Fifita without a formal announcement at church meetings.

Reverend Fifita told Letio Vake Tali Folau the church’s financial statements had been audited after a complaint by Tu’itupou last year and had been cleared by the auditor.

He also said it was the church members who had elected his wife as treasurer, and the election was in accordance with the church’s constitution.

Reverend Fifita claimed Tu’itupou and some church members were contacting each other by telephone and discussing their agenda before their arrival at church.

He criticised Tu’itupou for going against his authority for making executive decisions regarding the church.

In the video, Tu’itupou and his wife can be heard telling Police Reverend Fifita did not own the property and therefore no legal authority to remove them from the church grounds.

However, one of the police officers present at the confrontation informed them the pastor did have power to remove individuals from the church property.

Tu’itupou said he left the church property along a group of other people, leaving about a dozen families behind with Reverend Fifita.

He said his behaviour was meant to stop Reverend Fifita from influencing authorities at the church headquarters for the benefit of his own personal gain.

Asked whether or not he and his supporters would associate themselves with a different church, Tu’itupou said they were waiting on God’s call.

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