News Release

Apostle Discusses Religious Freedom with Vanuatu Leaders

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with His Excellency Tallis Obed Moses, President of the Republic of Vanuatu, and Hon. Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, yesterday in Port Vila.


In separate meetings, Elder Stevenson thanked both leaders and the Vanuatu government for allowing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to continue to freely exercise their faith in Jesus Christ in the island nation. 

“We are truly grateful that Vanuatu has that religious freedom," Elder Stevenson said.

"We have full-time missionaries who are serving God and who are sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ freely in Vanuatu. We are grateful for that and we hope that we are able to reciprocate by teaching our members to live according to the law of the land, to vote, to be supportive of the government and to be good citizens. We teach them to be obedient and respectful of the laws of their country."

President Tallis Obed agreed with Elder Stevenson regarding the responsibility and duty of parents to nurture their children in the principles of the gospel in order to raise them to become good citizens and future leaders.

“The government can vote in legislation to try to control or minimize crimes but those laws cannot stop the increase of crimes in the country," President Obed said. "The churches have an important role to play in order to help our citizens to become God-fearing people."

Prime Minister Salwai told Elder Stevenson that the preamble of the Constitution of Vanuatu is based on two fundamental Christian principles—faith in God and traditional values.

“Christianity teaches about loving our neighbour as ourselves," Prime Minister Salwai said. "Our traditional beliefs teach us to respect one another. So these are the two main fundamental principles that we will continue to cherish and protect in the years to come."

Elder Stevenson told President Tallis Obed and Prime Minister Salwai that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a family-centred religion.

“In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are emphasizing in our teachings that the family is the core unit of religion," Elder Stevenson said.

"We are teaching fathers and mothers that they have a divine duty and responsibility to train their children to learn to become self-reliant, spiritually and temporally. Parents have to pray, read and study the scriptures with their children. They have the responsibility to nurture them in gospel principles from a tender age up to their youth, so they can become good Christians and good citizens."

Both President Tallis Obed and Prime Minister Salwai thanked The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for continuing to teach their members to be good citizens and also for praying for the government.

The two Vanuatu leaders also thanked the Church for its support of families, in particular those affected by cyclones and other natural disasters. They noted the humanitarian assistance in terms of emergency food supplies, housing projects and other help offered by the Church.

Elder Stevenson told the President and Prime Minister that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would continue to assist the people through humanitarian assistance.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established in Vanuatu in 1973. There are approximately 8,000 Church members in the country.

In his 2017 visit to Australia, Vanuatu and French Polynesia, Elder Gary E. Stevenson is accompanied by his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson.

Elder Ian S. Ardern, General Authority Seventy and member of the Pacific Area Presidency, and Elder Adolf Johansson, Area Seventy, are traveling with Elder and Sister Stevenson during their Vanuatu visit.

Newsroom contributor: Jean-Paul Baptiste CALO

Additional Resources

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