The substitution of the laws of men for the law of God, the exaltation, by merely human authority, of Sunday in place of the Bible Sabbath, is the last act in the drama.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 141.
On the stroke of midnight Thursday night, December 29, 2011, the date shifted from Thursday to Saturday, December 31, 2011, in Samoa as its position in relation to the International Date Line (IDL) changed. Samoan time moved forward by a whole 24 hours, having skipped Friday, December 30, entirely. This change also marked the division in conviction of Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa—those who will continue to keep Saturday as their Sabbath and others who will now worship on Sunday as the new Sabbath.
Sunday worship will continue uninterrupted for the majority of the Christian community, even though the day Samoans call Sunday will have moved from the first day of the week to the seventh. For Seventh-day Adventists, who observe the biblical Sabbath, the change presented challenges because of the longstanding association of Saturday with the seventh day of the week. As its name suggests, one of the distinguishing features of the Seventh-day Adventist faith is its observance of the biblical Sabbath, which, according to Scripture, is on the seventh day of the week.
Until the change, the seventh day of the week fell on Saturday, as it did everywhere else around the world. When Samoa repositioned the IDL, it also reallocated the days of the week so that the seventh day of the week will fall on Sunday instead of Saturday. The numbering of the weekly cycle remains as before, but the names of the days have changed. In line with biblical precepts, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samoa will continue to observe the biblical Sabbath on the seventh day of the weekly cycle, irrespective of the change of name to Sunday.
Saturday in Samoa, December 31, 2011, went down in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist church as the beginning for Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa to have two Sabbaths, as the next Sabbath for the Samoa Mission was Sunday, January 1, 2012, while the Samatau Seventh-day Adventist Church, and others that have maintained their conviction, worshiped on Saturday, December 31, 2011, instead. One member of the Samatau church stated, “There is no intention for us to change religion or to set up a new church. The only difference is that, church members at Samatau Seventh-day Adventist Church will continue to worship on Saturday while others in Samoa will now worship on Sundays.”
For many Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa, Sunday will coincide with the biblical Sabbath, the day of worship as commanded by Scripture.
Resources: “Seventh Day Adventists in Samoa will have two Sabbaths with dateline change,” Samoa News, December 28, 2011, www.samoanews.com; “Calendar Shift Doesn’t Alter Seventh Day, Samoan Church Says,” Adventist Review, January 26, 2012, www.adventistreview.org.