News Release

Groundbreaking Event Marks Beginning of Construction of Port Vila Vanuatu Temple

Elder K. Brett Nattress joined by local Church leaders and members, as well as invited guests including Vanuatu‘s President and Prime Minister

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Port Vila Vanuatu Temple site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, 8 April 2023.

Presiding over the event was Elder K. Brett Nattress, Pacific Area President of the Church. He was accompanied by his wife, Shawna.

Elder K. Brett Nattress, Pacific Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses the audience during the Port Vila Vanuatu temple groundbreaking held on Saturday, 8 April 2023.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Vanuatu President His Excellency Nikenike Vurobaravu and his wife Rima Vurobaravu, and the Honourable Prime Minister Altoi Ismael Kalsakau and his wife Ellene Kalsakau, attended the ceremony. Other dignitaries were also in attendance.

Local Church leader, Yvon Basil, president of the Port Vila Stake, conducted the service.

Elder Nattress extended Church President, Russell M. Nelson’s, love and greetings in his message to the people: “We love you. We thank you. We need you.”

Elder Nattress added, “We need you to be faithful, to live the commandments of God and be good neighbours and friends.”

Elder Nattress read a verse from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ: “Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? (2 Nephi 29:7).

“The Vanuatu temple is evidence of God’s promise,” Elder Nattress said. “God remembers His children.”

Elder Nattress shared the story of young Joseph Smith.

At the age of 14 years, Smith had questions about which church he should join.

One day, he read a verse in the Bible, James 1:5; “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Smith wrote that this scripture came with such power to his heart that he decided to go and pray, to ask God.

Elder Nattress said, “[Joseph] went to a grove of trees near his home and offered up the desires of his heart in prayer. This is what happened.”

Quoting from Joseph Smith History 1:16-17, Elder Nattress said, “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.”

“…When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

Elder Nattress said, “I know God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ visited this young boy. They told Joseph that through him the gospel of Jesus Christ would be restored.”

“I testify that in connection with this restoration, Jesus Christ’s priesthood authority has been restored and temples are now built in His name,” said Elder Nattress.

As authorised by President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Nattress dedicated the site for the building of the temple.

Artist rendering of the future Port Vila Vanuatu Temple.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

In his prayer, Elder Nattress expressed gratitude to Heavenly Father, for the divine gift of His Beloved Son Jesus Christ, for His life, His infinite Atonement, and His wondrous gifts of repentance and forgiveness.

He expressed thanks for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these the latter days through the prophet Joseph Smith; and for the present prophet, President Russell M. Nelson.

He prayed for the construction of the Port Vila Vanuatu temple, for the workers, for the people on the isles, for the mothers and fathers that have prepared for this day.

He prayed for protection for families and especially the rising generation, that they will draw strength from the Lord’s Holy House. He asked that their “thoughts, their hearts, and their eyes will look upward to God, for guidance and direction; that they will lay hold upon the prophetic blessings promised to those who faithfully search out their ancestors to bless them with the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.”

He prayed for the youth to “be steadfast and immovable in their faith in Jesus Christ; that they will serve their fellowmen with joy.”

He blessed neighbours and friends, community leaders and those of other faiths and religions “who we love and respect.” He asked Heavenly Father to pour down blessings upon their families and bless them from on high in connection with the beautiful temple.

“May the transcendent beauty of the temple become a place of peace and spiritual strength for the local residents and for all who will come and visit here,” he prayed.

Elder Nattress asked for a blessing upon the people, that they would follow Jesus Christ’s perfect example of love; that they would serve their families, friends and neighbours with an eye single to God’s glory; and that they would be faithful to Jesus Christ’s holy name in all things.

Guests were invited to turn the soil, to mark the start of the temple’s construction.

During the programme, a youth choir sang “High on the Mountain Top,” a beloved Latter-day Saint hymn which describes the fulfilment of a prophecy about temples found in Isaiah 2:2-3.

On 4 April, 2020, President Russell M. Nelson announced that a temple would be built in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Watch the broadcast of the Port Vila Vanuatu temple groundbreaking here: 

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.