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Malua Theological College was founded on September 24, 1844, by Revd. George Turner and Revd. Charles Hardie of the London Missionary Society. “For Jesus and His Church” – this became, and still is, the philosophy of the College; it encapsulates the intrinsic and unchanging nature of the College.

Discussions concerning the establishment of the College began in 1840 when the need for an educational institution that would provide educated ministers became evident. But it was not until February 1844 that formal agreement was reached to establish such an institution. In September of the same year the College was officially founded. According to Turner, the College was established for the sole purpose of providing an educated minister for each congregation in Samoa and in other island communities of the Pacific.

A permanent site for the College was secured in the district of Saleimoa in an area known as Maluapapa or Malua, as it is now commonly called, situated approximately twelve miles west of the capital of Apia and about the same distance east of Faleolo International Airport.

The College offered its first courses on September 25, 1844, with twenty-five students, all single males aged between twelve and twenty-four years, attending. In 1846, married students and their wives were admitted to the College, and from then on, the education of student’s wives became an integral part of the College’s programme.

The admission to the College of students from other Pacific islands such as Vanuatu, Niue, the Loyalty Islands, and New Caledonia within ten years of its founding was another very significant development. Writing in 1869, Turner pointed out that after only twenty-five years since its beginning, about 1143 graduates, Samoans and other Pacific islanders had gone from the College to serve in the mission fields in Samoa and elsewhere, providing clear evidence that the College was in fact fulfilling the primary purpose for which it was established.

The Fale Iupeli (Jubilee Hall), built to commemorate the College’s 50th anniversary was officially opened in 1897. This monumental building became a permanent and notable feature of the College campus. However, after 110 or more years of service to the College and the CCCS, the building was dismantled in 2013, after the General Assembly’s Resolution to build a new Fale Iupeli. Noteworthy also is the Fale Senetenari (Centenary Hall), which was built to mark the 1944 celebration of the College’s one hundred years. It still continues to cater for the College other activities.  In November 2014, the College dedicated its larger Chapel, now known as Iupeli II, which was constructed with, and using, most material from the first Fale Iupeli. The Iupeli II, large enough to accommodate MTC community, is the contemporary centre of community worship. During the first week of the 2017 General Assembly, the grand splendid new Fale Iupeli was officially dedicated. MTC uses it for its Graduations and other services from time to time.

Wide interest in the formation of a Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) led to a meeting held in the College in 1961 of various church leaders from around the Pacific region.  In this meeting, an initial agreement was reached not only in respect of the formation of the Pacific Conference of Churches, but also in respect of the establishment of a regional theological institution.

The Pacific Theological College (PTC), opened in Fiji in 1966, has had a close relationship with the Malua Theological College since then, mainly through College graduates who have graduated from the PTC with either a Bachelor of Divinity or a Master of Theology and have become lecturers at the College since 1969.

The academic standard of the College is reported to have been significantly raised by Dr. John Bradshaw when he was principal of the College from 1956 to 1963.  Dr. Bradshaw not only introduced new subjects such as Psychology, Pastoral Counselling, Homiletics and Greek into the curriculum, but he also made English the teaching language for all subjects. Dr. Bradshaw’s efforts to upgrade the academic standard of the College further led him to prepare a number of students to acquire their Certificates of ‘Proficiency in Religious Knowledge’ from London University.

Revd. David Bowen, principal from 1964 to 1967, took the academic development of the College even further when he introduced Hebrew and Systematic Theology in the curriculum.  In the effort to improve the College library, Revd. David Bowen was able to obtain from the Theological Education Fund (TEF) a number of books, which added significantly to the collection. His wife, Gerda, in 1964 founded the first of such early childhood institution in Samoa.

Upon the expiry of Revd. David Bowen’s term of office, the administration of the College was handed over to Samoan ministers who also were College graduates. The significance of this change of leadership for the Samoan people was profound.  The change of leadership in 1967 was a signal that the College had come of age.  Revd. Mila Sapolu was the first Samoan Principal of the College.

On the 24th of September 1994, the Congregational Christian Church Samoa commemorated with pride and thanksgiving one hundred and fifty years since the founding of the College.  Reflecting on the events of the commemoration, a former student of the College observed that the celebration ended with a clear affirmation of the importance of theological education in Samoa, and the greater role that the College would play in it. Indeed the essential nature of the College as inscribed in its vision shall remain, ‘For Jesus and His Church’, and there must be a continuing commitment to the progressive development of its academic programme as well.

By resolution of the General Assembly of the Church in May 1996, the proposal for the degree programme was given formal approval.  The implementation of this programme became the responsibility of Revd. Prof. Otele Perelini. After extensive planning and organisation, the degree programme began in 1997.

By the authority of the General Assembly of the Congregational Christian Church Samoa, the College is empowered to award diplomas and confer degrees as follows:

                        Diploma of Theology

Bachelor of Theology

Bachelor of Divinity (1997-2017)

Bachelor of Divinity with Honours (since 2018)


A Historic Moment

The formal beginning of the degree programme in February 1997 was indeed a very important moment in the history and academic life of the College.  The event thus warrants special notice.

As the realisation of a vision, the inception of the degree programme represented the culmination of years of planning and organisation. In the respect that the event marked the final phase in the transformation of the College into a tertiary institution, the beginning of the degree programme thereby accentuated the ability of the College to develop its institutional objectives and to widen its academic horizons. In a subtle yet practical way, the beginning of this new venture impressed upon everyone involved with its implementation the enormity of the task.  As a huge educational undertaking, the continuation of the new venture will no doubt command from the Church, members of the Faculty and students of the College a commitment commensurate with the nature of the undertaking.  In short, it will require commitment of the highest order.

Thus, the introduction of a higher and more flexible academic programme commenced in 1997. Gone are the days when College students were confronted with a range of compulsory courses in their four years of study towards the Diploma of Theology award. In addition to the opportunity to undertake degree courses, students now also enjoy a wide choice of courses in the second, third, and the fourth years of the degree programme. The optional or elective papers offered under the degree programme span a wide range of courses from the immediately practical through to more philosophical papers.

But while the degree programme offers a wide choice of courses and considerable opportunity for specialisation, the College degrees and the Diploma of Theology award continue to place strong emphasis on the development of basic practical skills relevant to and necessary for the Church’s pastoral ministry. The development of sound interpretative, analytical and reasoning skills is therefore the primary focus of the compulsory ‘block’ of core courses taught in the four years, especially in the first year.

In the remaining three years, other practical skills are developed through compulsory programmes in preaching or ‘Sermon Class’ in the second year and Field Work in the third. The latter programme is designed to give all third-year students the essential practical experience of working in a local Church congregation.

So while the academic programme is now much more flexible and students have much greater opportunity to tailor their courses to meet their own particular interests, the traditional practical orientation of the courses that the College offers has not been undermined rather it has been greatly enhanced.

Notwithstanding the joy and excitement that the inception of the new venture has generated, it must be stated that, as a critical moment of transition and change, the beginning of the degree programme has been fraught with ambivalence.  In short, as with all new beginnings, this new beginning entails both hope and challenges for the future.

It is our fervent hope that the members of the Faculty will continue to entertain the resolve to maintain and further develop the existing degree programme. In that ongoing process of development, changes in the structure and composition of the degree courses might have to be made from time to time.

Whereas such changes (albeit minor) might be inevitable, they would neither entail any change in the College’s underlying philosophy (referred to above), nor cause any change to the College’s commitment to the development of basic practical skills that are necessary for the Church’s pastoral ministry.

It is also our prayer that the degree programme will be spared from the effects of the chronic funding problems which now afflict many tertiary institutions.  Being assured of the Church’s continuing moral and financial support of the College’s activities is, however, a comforting thought.  In this connection, the College wishes to register its gratitude for the invaluable support which is critical for the smooth operation and progress of the Church’s theological institution.

The calibre and enthusiasm of students currently enrolled in the two degree programmes is an important consideration in this respect. It is indeed the College’s good fortune to have students of outstanding ability at the outset of its degree programme. No doubt, they will be competent holders of the College degrees.

Graduates of Malua who intend to undertake either of the two degree courses in 2019 must confirm admission one week before the official beginning of the academic year on the 30th of January, 2019.

The inclusion of College graduates (the majority of whom are parish ministers) is a very important phase in the development of the degree programme. This category of students will obviously add maturity and experience to the programme, providing challenging and stimulating views to the discussions and seminars.

The end of 1999 witnessed the first graduation of Malua Students with degrees (Bachelor of Divinity & Bachelor of Theology), a historic moment in the history of Malua Theological College.  During the same graduation service, then Principal, Rev. Dr Otele Perelini was awarded the first Church Professorship of the College, another historic moment in the life of the College. The retirement of Professor Perelini marked ten years since the College began conferring its degrees.

As in any ongoing venture of this kind, there is always the challenge to maintain its momentum and adapt to the changing circumstances. This need was encountered in 2010 when the erstwhile Principal, Rev. Dr. Afereti Uili, set in motion a major review of the College’s academic programmes.

As the result of the review undertaken, Revd Ma’afala Limā - the current Principal - is determined to adapt Malua to the changing circumstances in terms of the quality assurance of its programmes without losing sight of the core values upon which the College was established.

Hence, the inception of the alignment of the College’s programmes to the new accreditation standards set by the South Pacific Association of Theological Schools (SPATS) and the registration and accreditation of the College’s programmes under the Samoa Qualification Authority (SQA) as per law of the land.

To that extent, Malua has adapted its programmes, beginning in 2017, to reflect one of the contemporary factors of the Accreditation guidelines approved by the SPATS Council in 2016, a factor quite similar to the guidelines attested by the SQA.

Credits and levels have been allocated and approved by the Principal and Staff for each of the three programmes offered by the College, a departure from the required number of courses to complete a programme as it was in the past. This recent venture is primarily to align Malua’s programmes with all the theological schools in the Pacific and the world. It also takes into accounts all the activities set out for both inside and outside of the classroom a student should participate in. These include the like of worship activities, preaching assignments, sports, community works and others.

Thus, a student in the Diploma of Theology (Level VI) will require to attain 370 credits, 460 credits for the Bachelor of Theology (Level VII) and 480 credits for the Bachelor of Divinity with Honours (Level VIII). The accreditation of Malua’s programmes by SPATS was successfully completed in July 2018, endorsing all three programmes for the next six (6) years. The SQA accreditation process is continuing.


  • Revd. Edwards 1941 - 1948, 1950 - 1952
    Revd. White   1949
    Revd. Hoadley   1953 - 1955
    Revd. Dr. John Bradshaw   1956 - 1963 
    Revd. David Bowen   1964 - 1967
    Revd. Mila Sapolu   1967 - 1971
    Revd. Bert Williams   1972 - 1976
    Revd. Masalosalo Sopoaga   1976 - 1979
    Revd. Oka Fauolo   1979 - 1994
    Revd. Professor Otele Perelini   1995 - 2010
    Revd. Dr. Afereti S. Uili   2010 - 2015
    Revd. Ma’afala Limā   2015 -

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