By JACK AMI
HISTORY was made when 34-year-old Pastor Tuta Larry was ordained as the first local reverend from Siviri Village United Church in Tairuma in the Gulf of Papua.
No other Tairuma or Gulf local was appointed to this status since the London Missionary Society, forerunners to the present-day United Church in PNG, settled in 1800s on the shores of Kerema.
Ps Tuta hails from Siviri Village, one of the traditional owners of the Kerema town land.
The elevation of the pastor is also a challenge to the many youths in the village who have the potential to do something great for themselves but are simply content with the simple village life and not looking beyond the horizon to fulfil their dreams.
The United Church’s Papuan Gulf Region Bishop Wari Eho’o ordained Ps Tuta and his wife Kila beside him in a very well organised ceremony and procession. Bishop Eho’o also bid the young couple and their children farewell setting them on their missionary journey.
Bishop Eho’o symbolically wrapped a sash around Ps Tuta’s neck and charged him with the power and authority to carry his pastoral responsibilities.
Bibles and badges were presented to the newly ordained pastor to complete the ceremony.
Bishop Eho’o challenged the 43-year-old that the journey began for him with his first posting in Sepeo Village in the Moru Circuit.
He told Ps Tuta that he needed commitment and dedication to achieve what really mattered in his ministry and also look into social issues involving youths and their religion obligations in their communities.
Ps Tuta who was also president of Siviri Young Tigers rugby league club, was accompanied to the church by team officials and players and released to circuit minister Veneo Magani who then handed him over to the congregation.
“His family obligation will be something that he will not oversee from time to time with the commitments he has now,” said Bishop Eho’o.
For Ps Tuta after all this years of waiting, Sunday, Jan 11 was the proudest yet humbling day of his life when he was ordained by Bishop Eho’o in front of his elders and community as the first ever reverend from the village.
But it was also sad as it was his last ministry duty in his village to lead the Sunday service in front of his community.
“I was never nervous as I was looking forward for the day and this is what had convinced me to be a servant for Christ and to deliver and preach the Good News,” Ps Tuta said.
“This work is like community volunteering and we rely on the congregation to make ends meet with all the kindness and generous contributions.
“In my village at Siviri it was easy because my family and relatives are all here and I relaxed but in Sepeo it will be a lot different and a challenge for my young family.
“This is new chapter for me to depart my village with my wife Kila and four children.
“This is also going to be a challenge for me as a young pastor in Sepeo which is different culture and tradition that I have to understand.
“But coming this far as a pastor and being ordained as a reverend sets me in the right director to preach the world of God Almighty to the new congregation.
“This is away from my immediate family and relatives but I know I will serve God to the best of my abilities.”
The quietly spoken young pastor knows what it takes to reach out and deliver the gospel with the support of the congregation elders in his pastoral career.
There was dancing, praise and worship as the congregation all look forward to this event as Ps Tuta was leaving the shores of Tairuma for Moripi.
The event was also witnessed by Kerema town Mayor Sam Koraea and councilor Emmanuel Morehari who both congratulated Ps Tuta and wished him all the best in his new ministry duties and responsibilities.
Morehari added that Ps Tuta was a successful president for the Siviri Young Tigers rugby league team and his guidance was blessing to the club leading the A grade side in winning five premiership and a double in the women’s competition.
“This is clear indication that his involvement with the club signifies the “spiritual powers” that has brought all these local players and administrators together in five seasons.
“The Tigers club and Kerema Rugby League will miss his services but the legacy he has left will still continue.”
Morehari said Ps Tuta would still be part of them whenever he returned to Kerema.