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 year was officially opened in 1897. Since then that monumental building has been a permanent and notable feature of the College campus. Noteworthy also is the Fale Senetenari (Centenary Hall), which was erected to mark the 1944 celebration of the College’s one hundred years. Both buildings are currently used for community worship and other College functions.
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 undertaking 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 September 24, 1994, the Congregational Christian Church in 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 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 in Samoa, the College is empowered to confer degrees and award diplomas as follows:
Bachelor of Divinity (BD)
Bachelor of Theology (BTh)
Diploma of Theology (DipTh)
The Degree Programme
The formal beginning of the degree programme in February 1997 (as planned) 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.
And so 1997 saw the introduction of a higher and more flexible academic programme. Gone are the days when College students were confronted with a range of compulsory subjects 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 subjects in the third and fourth years of the degree programme. The optional or elective papers now offered under the new programme span a wide range from the immediately practical through to more philosophical papers.
But while the current programme offers a wide choice of subjects 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 current 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 courses 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 2013 must confirm admission one week before the official beginning of the academic year on the 6th February.
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 dimensions 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 life of Malua Theological College. During the same graduation service, the Principal, 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 met in 2010 when the Principal of the College, Rev Dr Afereti Uili, set in motion a major review of the College's academic programmes.
PRINCIPALS OF THE COLLEGE (Since 1941)
||1941 - 1948,
||1950 - 1952
||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