Dispute over the assets of a Tongan Methodist church in Utah

A legal battle is taking place in Utah, USA, as a result of a split in the Tongan Wesleyan Church there.

The split in the church took place after Filimone Havili Mone, the former pastor of the Tongan United Methodist Church, was charged with failing to report child abuse.

The Rocky Mountain Conference removed Mone from his post in November, allegedly without any explanation to the church’s congregation.

That led a majority of church members agreeing to change the name of the Tongan United Methodist Church to Salt Lake City Laumalie Ma’oni’oni Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, to elect a new board and modify its articles of incorporation.

The Conference sided with the minority members who remained with the Tongan United Methodist Church and opposed the changes.

In January Etimani Ma’Afu, was elected as president of the Tongan United Methodist Church, but not for the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The Free Wesleyan Church filed a legal challenge alleging that Ma’Afu was improperly claiming authority over the church’s assets. The Conference filed a counterclaim asserting ownership and control of the church’s charter and assets.

In April, the Conference and the Tongan United Methodist Church jointly sued the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga and its principals, alleging a breach of fiduciary duty in setting up their unaffiliated congregation.

 Source

News category: Asia Pacific.

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