(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) — Performing arts of Samoa and Easter Sunday services go hand-in-hand when the Samoan Congregational Christian Church of San Antonio joins Samoan Churches from Arlington and Fort Hood, each year in Texas.
The Easter weekend celebration is one of two major annual events for the three Churches that comprise the Tafatolu which is not affiliated with the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa or American Samoa.
"But we basically mimic their anniversaries and Christian calendar," said Rev. James Kerisiano DeVoux, Senior Pastor at San Antonio. "We are currently a part of the Faletolu which consists of us, Arlington, and Fort Hood. Each Ekalesia is basically given a Biblical event from Easter to portray through song, skit and faaevagelia. It is a weekend long event and usually culminates in the celebration of Resurrection Sunday. In September, the Autalavou of the Faletolu gather to fellowship in both Biblical and cultural themes."
San Antonio welcomed the New Year with Fuifui Lotu, a week of services that is also held in the two Samoa.
"I've always known I'd serve in the Ministry," Rev. DeVoux said. "I initially thought I was going to join the ministry through mission but I decided I wanted to immerse myself in my native tongue and what better way than by attending Kanana Fou. It was truly a challenge being that I was born and raised in the states – I basically had to learn how to read, write, and speak Samoan because English is my first language."
Rev. DeVoux, who has roots in Pago Pago and Fagasa, was born in Harbor City, Calif. Upon graduating from the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa Theological Seminary at Kanana Fou, he received his Diploma in Theology.
"Since moving here, I’ve been told numerous times that there are quite a few Samoans who live in San Antonio – most of whom do not belong to a church," Rev. DeVoux said.
His Faletua Mrs. Sauimalae Sefo DeVoux, of Fitiuta, Manu’a holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies and a Master's in Public Health from Grand Canyon University in Ariz.
They were married in 1999 and have two children: Jaedynn M. DeVoux, 17, and nine-year-old Kharizmah P. DeVoux.
After graduating from Kanana Fou, Rev. DeVoux served at his home Church, the United Samoan Church in Carson, Calif. In 2015, the DeVoux family was called to serve in San Antonio.
"The Ekalesia here voted and decided that they wanted my wife and I to come and lead God’s church here in San Antonio," said Rev. DeVoux. "We have an Awesome Congregation. We are modest in size – but are very active to say the least. There are less than 100 members which includes our Deacons, Mafutaga Tina, Aufaipese, Autalavou, and Sunday School – but we have quite a few visitors from time to time."
In addition to White Sunday, Mother's Day and Father's Day, all the special occasions celebrated by the 'Mother Church' at Kanana Fou, SCCC-SA hosts an Annual Harvest Festival for the children and community during Halloween, a safer alternative that is Biblically influenced. They are in their second year of Christmas caroling at various local convalescent and rehabilitation centers throughout San Antonio.
Rev. DeVoux notes that there are quite a few Samoans whom, since relocating from the islands to Texas, "have strayed away from the Church."
"One of the biggest challenges that state side Samoan churches face is the youth/young generation who leave the Lotu Ta’iti and go to English speaking churches because of the language barrier," he said. "A lot of folks who were born and raised in the church in Samoa move to America and automatically lose that connection with the church altogether."
SCCC-SA was founded by Maturo Taula’i, Ausage Suiaunoa and Feu’u Suiaunoa. Moderator/Taitaifono is Maturo Taula’i, Secretary/Treasurer is Ausage Suiaunoa. John Puni is Tiakono Taitai.
"We are blessed and honored to be serving here in San Antonio, alongside such loving and dedicated people as the mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters here in our Congregation," Rev. DeVoux told tautalatala. "It’s not the quantity – it’s the quality! It doesn’t matter how much you give – but if you do not give it with your heart and there is no love – it' meaningless! God deserves our absolute best all the time!"
The Samoan Congregational Christian Church of San Antonio is located at 500 Pilgrim Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78213.