News Release

Church and Community Leaders Break Ground for Temple in American Samoa 

Second temple to be built in the Samoan Islands

Ground was broken today for a new temple to be built in American Samoa by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Church officials were joined by local government leaders including the Governor, religious leaders and other guests.

Elder K. Brett Nattress, a member of the Pacific Area Presidency, presided at the event.

He was joined by Elder Faa’ipito Auapa’au, Area Seventy for American Samoa, Elder O. Vincent Haleck, emeritus General Authority Seventy, along with stake presidents and many other members and friends of the Church.

The ground-breaking event took place at the temple site in the capital city of Pago Pago in the Ottoville area, adjacent to the existing Pago Pago Central Stake building.

“This is an historic day for the wonderful Latter-day Saints of American Samoa,” said Elder Nattress.

"We are so grateful for the announcement of our Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, that a beautiful temple will be constructed here in Pago Pago.”

“The Savior is at the very center of everything we do. He is at the center of all that is done within the walls of the temple.”

Elder Nattress added: “As we symbolically turn the soil, let us turn our hearts to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let us establish a firm foundation in our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Elder Brett Nattress (center) greets Governor Lemanu Mauga and his wife Ella at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new temple in Pago Pago, American Samoa. October 2021 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Elder Auapa’au said, “The temple in American Samoa is a product of the faith of our ancestors and the rising generation who have sacrificed a lot. It will help point people to our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. It will also bring love and togetherness to the local community."

Elder O. Vincent Haleck, an emeritus General Authority Seventy who lives in American Samoa, also attended the service.

He said, “The Lord has now answered our longing prayers and the sacrifice of so many who made the trip to receive saving ordinances for their families.

“As you drive by in the coming days, weeks and months, on this site you will see this beautiful temple rise out of the ground in magnificent grandeur and beauty. Its beauty will raise our sights and spirits to heaven with the temple blessings that we will receive for ourselves and for our ancestors who have passed on.”

Because there was so much interest in this event, the ceremony was broadcast live to the four other stake centers in American Samoa.

A video of the event will be rebroadcast in both Samoan and English and can be seen at beginning at 8:00 pm Pago Pago time on 31 October and thereafter can be viewed on demand.

Elder Faapito Auapa'au welcomes a guest at the groundbreaking event for the Pago Pago Temple in American Samoa. October 20212021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Governor Lemanu Mauga offered his congratulations to the Church. “The temple is a place where generations will be blessed and a home for closer worship to the Lord.”

President of the Senate, Tuaolo Manaia Fruean; and Savali Talavou Ale, Speaker of the House, also attended.

Bishop Peter Brown of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago was touched when he saw the people at the ceremony shedding tears. He said, "This is a fulfillment of God's wishes and the hope of the people to get a temple in American Samoa."

Fifteen-year old Jonalin Young represented the youth of the Church there.

In her remarks, she said, “God knew the right time to build a temple in American Samoa. A time when everyone is in despair due to the pandemic, a time when the temple is needed most by many, and the time when He knew of my aching heart, longing for a family of seven to be sealed. His timing is the perfect time.”

Sister Salu Hunkin-Finau spoke about the long history of the Church in American Samoa.

Missionaries first arrived there in 1863 and the Samoan Mission was opened in 1888. When the territory of American Samoa was created in 1900, it became a center for Church growth and development.

Today there are 43 congregations and five stakes in American Samoa.

She concluded by saying, “I am grateful to our leaders for their years of support so that we could usher in what we could not have envisioned 150 years ago since the Church was introduced on the humble island of Au’uu - a temple of the Lord here in Ottoville.”

The first temple for the Samoan people was announced in 1977 in Pago Pago but was shifted to Apia in 1980 which was accessible for more Church members. It also corresponded with the announcement of other Pacific temples in French Polynesia and Tonga, signalling a plan to have many smaller temples in more locations.

American Samoan members of the Church have been regularly traveling to Apia to attend the temple. In April 2019, President Nelson made the announcement of the plans for a temple for Pago Pago which led to today’s ground-breaking.

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