2016 - Polynesian Luau

The Polynesian Luau – A Celebration of Polynesia and Heritage

“It was a magical trip to the islands of Polynesia with terrific South Seas food and dancing…” “It was incredible…” “It was so much fun…” Such were the expressions that those who attended the Polynesian Luau used to describe the experience that they all had that evening.

On Saturday, August 6, 2016, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Bethel-Woodlawn United Methodist Churches hosted their first Polynesian Luau at Austin Peay State University Clement Auditorium, in Clarksville, Tennessee. The event included a delicious Hawaiian dinner and a spectacular Polynesian show.

Reverend Dr. Apelu Poe, the pastor of Bethel-Woodlawn United Methodist Churches, coordinated the event to raise the desperately needed money to help our Church’s Congregational Development Fund.

“Bethel-Woodlawn United Methodist Churches has been a beacon of light for the citizens of Clarksville and Woodlawn for over three hundred years. This year Bethel UMC is celebrating their two hundred and five years of Christian ministry while Woodlawn UMC, hundred and thirty-six years. When we put these two together, we are talking about over three hundred years of Christian ministries and services. That is why we thank God for all of you, Reverend Dr Poe explained, “because by joining us this evening, you have helped us raise the desperately needed money to keep these two divine vineyards going for many more years to come,”

The Polynesian Luau began at 4:00 p.m. with a delicious Hawaiian dinner at Immaculate Conception Family Center just across the street from the Austin Peay State University Clement Auditorium.  The following local corporate sponsors provided the support for the event:  Walmart, La Quinta Inn, Hilton Garden Inn & Suites, F & M Banks, Olive Garden Italian Restaurant, Taylor Farms, and Second Harvest Food Banks of Middle Tennessee.

The dinner was followed by a 6:30 p.m. spectacular Polynesian show at Austin Peay Clement Auditorium. Reverend Dr. Cynthia Talley, pastor of New Providence United Methodist Church, officially opened the event with a word of prayer.

“Many people have asked me, Where were you Polynesian people migrated from in the first place? Well, one theory says that we Polynesian people migrated from South America. Another says that we came from South-East Asia. Still another says that we came from the lost tribe of Israel that kept drifting and ending up in the South Seas as ancestors of Polynesian people. The good news for us,” Dr. Poe proclaimed, “is that we are not going to solve this mystery this evening. But what we will do is taking you on a tour to these South Pacific islands through their dance and music so that you can learn something about our Polynesian history and cultures.”

The tour to the South Pacific islands, guided by the tour guide, Faapio Poe began in Hawaii, then onto Tahiti, New Zealand, Tonga, Tokelau, Rarotonga, and ended in Samoa, widely acclaimed as the “heart of Polynesia,”  

Reverend Dr. Thomas Russell from Franklin said, “It was a magical trip to the island of Polynesia with terrific South Seas food and dancing. I am glad we had the chance to be there.”

Professor Eric Stalions from Martin Methodist College said, “This was my first Luau. The similarities among the songs and dances from Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, and New Zealand made the greatest impression on me. Such connections demonstrated a deep interconnectedness among these cultures.”

In addition, the event provided an opportunity for partnering of local churches, ethnic ministries, schools, government and non-government organizations, and businesses.

“People of many different nationalities and cultures had an opportunity to share parts of their lives with others while sampling new tastes, sounds, and visual experiences,” explained Mike Dennison, the Director of Missions & Outreach at the Brentwood United Methodist Church, “all united through a common devotion to Jesus Christ.” 

Reverend Dr. Poe explained that he hoped that this celebration, which he expected would become an annual event, served as the first important step towards recognizing God’s vision for cross-cultural unity, human rights, and international peace and social justice.

“We can avoid misunderstandings and racism when we meet and interact directly with people from all over the world, and thus see them as fellow human beings with similar joys and sorrows,” explained Cherie White, a United Methodist missionary serving in Mexico who attended the event.


Adult Sunday School 10:00 AM
Worhip Service 11:00 AM
Church Wide Bible Study 6:30 PM

Bethel UMC
3180 Fort Campbell Blvd.
Clarksville, TN 37042
(931) 431-5758
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