Corporate entry: Christian Fellowship Church



The Christian Fellowship Church (CFC) is an independent indigenous church in the Western Solomons. It began in the 1950s as a movement of separatism from the Methodist Mission, and in 1960 became a separate church. Its founder was Silas Eto (c. 1905-1984) (q.v.), also known as the Holy Mama, from the Kolumbaghea area of New Georgia. The Holy Mama preached strong doctrines of communalism, to the degree that the Church has overall control over the customary lands and natural resources of several dozen adherent villages. The CFC has maintained sectarian isolationism and is fiercely independent.

Eto was trained as a pastor (1927-1932) at Kokeqolo Mission under Rev. J. F. Goldie (q.v.). During his years in the Methodist church he fostered a distinct liturgical and theological style, particularly among his own Kusaghe people on New Georgia. In 1956, after incidents of possession (taturu), Eto believed the Holy Spirit had visited his congregation and he led his followers out of Methodism to form the new church, with Milton Talasasa (q.v.) as its first chairman. Services concentrated on hymn singing in Roviana language and sermons from Eto. Ultimate authority resided with Eto. He styled himself as the vehicle of the Holy Spirit and claimed healing powers. The Church recruited a number of former Methodist pastors, and in the mid-1970s there were twenty-two adherent villages and five schools, mainly in west New Georgia. The CFC reorganised village life completely, developed new agricultural and commercial enterprises, and built a Bible Training School in a model village renamed from Menakasapa to 'Paradise'. The CFC continued to operate its own primary schools after the other Christian denominations had transferred responsibility for primary education to the government. Paradise contains what is probably the most beautiful traditional-style church building in the Solomon Islands, forty-two metres long and twelve wide, constructed on high wooden piles and with wonderful decorations. The CFC is notably practical and is known for being able to raise large groups for community projects. It has been involved in large reforestation projects.

In the 1970s, multinational giant Unilever extended logging operations into CFC-controlled areas, while at the same time Australian conservationists campaigned there. Strong opposition to logging arose, which ultimately involved CFC leaders and villages, and in 1986 Unilever logging had to leave the Solomons. After the death of Holy Mama, his sons attained key roles in national politics and in the CFC spiritual continuity. Both conservationists and loggers found them unpredictable.

Eto was succeeded by his son Ikan Rove, born in 1984, who is now known by the title Spiritual Authority. In 2005, he was made a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (K.B.E.). Another son, Job Dudley Tausinga, was in 1986 elected member of the National Parliament for the area in a block-vote by Church members. The CFC today fuses Melanesian custom, old-style Methodism, political autonomy and modernist approaches to development. It enters the twenty-first century as a major power in the Western Solomon Islands. (Hviding 2005a; Trompf 1983; Tuza 1977; SS 21 Oct. 2000)

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Published resources

Book Sections

  • Tuza, Esau, 'Silas Eto of New Georgia', in Garry Trompf (ed.), Prophets of Melanesia: Six Essays, Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, Port Moresby, 1977, pp. 65-87. Details


  • Hviding, Edvard, Christian Fellowship Church, Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, Bron Taylor, Continuum Books, London, 2005, 306-307 pp. Details


Journal Articles

  • Trompf, Garry, 'Independent Churches in Melanesia', Oceania, vol. 54, no. 1, 1983, pp. 51-72. Details