Northwest Samoan Section

A Brief Historical Perspective

"God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." (Hebrews 11:40, NIV)

        Driven by nothing more than a passion for missio-dei, the Samoan trailblazers of Pentecostalism arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1960’s with a vision and a bold determination to propagate the Samoans with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Equipped with just a sheer desire to evangelize and contextualize the truth of the gospel in their own cultural ethos, they enthusiastically engaged in evangelism that led to the dynamic growth of the Samoan Assemblies of God churches in the Northwest. Many Samoans who bravely shored the Pacific Northwest relocated to military bases due to the closing of the US Naval Base in American Samoa in 1951. The Samoan population explosion in the Northwest gave rise to the need for assimilation and the church to bridge the gap between culture and community.

          In the wake of such massive Samoan population increase in America, especially in the West coast, a young energetic Samoan church planter by the name of Misailegalu Talaga decided to seek further education in the Pacific Northwest. Reveverend Misailegalu and his wife Fiva Talaga arrived in Seattle in 1956 to attend the Northwest Bible College in Kirkland, now known as Northwest University. At the time, there was only one Samoan Congregational Church in Seattle started by Folasa Titialii in 1964. The Talaga’s returned to California after graduation to plant a local Samoan Assembly of God church. In 1971, they returned to Seattle and planted the First Samoan Assembly of God in Rainier Valley, which also became the second Samoan church in Seattle. After Rev. Misailegalu’s death in 1976, his wife Fiva Talaga assumed the pastorate role of the First Samoan Assembly of God church in Rainier Valley. From 1985 – 1990, Rev. Fiva led the council of Samoan churches until her death in 1990. 

          The next decade proved to be a time of unprecedented growth among Samoan churches in the Northwest. Rev. Tony Masaniai (1990 – 1992), Rev. Isaako Malo (1993-1995), and Rev. Tulaga Tuliau (1996-1999) provided leadership for the Northwest Samoan Fellowship with a focus on building a strong organization through gathering for worship and social events. After the death of Rev. Tulaga Tuliau, Rev. Tony Masaniai became the leader for another four years (1999-2005). Although there was evidence of external growth and tremendous support from the Northwest Ministry Network, the Northwest Samoan Fellowship seemed to be plateauing.

          In 2005, a new breed of young visionary maverick leaders assumed the leadership of the Northwest Samoan Fellowship. Rev. Tuugasala and his wife Julie served as Northwest Samoan Fellowship leaders from 2006 till 2013 when the USA Samoan National Fellowship became the Samoan District Council in 2014. During Rev. Tuugasala's tenure as leader, the Northwest Samoan Fellowship focused on a vision to build healthy leaders, churches, and ministries. Rev. Tuugasala was elected in 2013 to be the first Superintendent of the Samoan District and Dr. Matt Siliva was elected to be the first presbyter of the Northwest Samoan Section, which was a necessary change of nomenclature from “superintendent” to “presbyter” to commensurate with the Samoan District By-Laws. In 2015, the Samoan District Council elected Dr. Matt Siliva as district Secretary, and Rev. Teiano Mua was elected presbyter of the Northwest Samoan Section.  

          Currently, the Northwest Samoan Section has twelve vibrant churches in Seattle and the South Sound area of Tacoma. Plans are on the way to outreach to other major cities in the Pacific Northwest where Samoans are located while at the same time training the leadership to be proactive in building healthy missional Samoan churches that are biblically based and theologically sound.
   In retrospect, our Northwest Ministry Section grew from a humble beginning with just one family who answered the call of God to mission. And those that arrived subsequently knew how to discern the time and so they worked relentlessly and tenaciously to plant churches and build the infrastructure of the movement knowing that the best is yet to come. Our gratitude goes out not only to those who courageously pioneered and led our Northwest Section, but to several unsung heroes of faith who were willing to stay the course and commit to the building of this great organization for the glory of God. Some of them have passed on and others are still serving faithfully in ministries. We honor all of them for their sacrifices of time and resources for the advancement of the kingdom of God. We also thank the Northwest Ministry Network for their outstanding support in years past. Thank you for being our partners in the ministry of the Lord. God bless the Samoan District Council as we move on forward with greater determination and commitments to advance His kingdom. 

Submitted by Dr. Matt Siliva.