News Release

Mormons Mark 170th Anniversary of the Church in the South Pacific

This weekend [23-24 May] members and guests of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Mormons] in French Polynesia will celebrate the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the faith’s first missionaries in the South Pacific. 

Three Mormon missionaries arrived in Tubuai, French Polynesia on 30 April 1844.  Addison Pratt, Noah Rogers and Benjamin Grouard had journeyed for close to a year by land and sea from the Church’s headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois. A fourth missionary, Knowlton F. Hanks, passed away during the trip after a month of being at sea.  On 15 May 1844 Elders Rogers and Grouard arrived in Tahiti while Elder Pratt remained in Tubuai.

The faith’s first congregation was established on Tubuai soon after the missionaries’ arrival.  170 years on, there are close to half a million Latter-day Saints in the South Pacific.

To mark the milestone, members and friends of the Church will attend a cultural celebration this Friday evening at Papeete’s Pater Stadium.  Over 700 Latter-day Saint youth and a 500 voice choir will perform for an expected audience of over 10,000 including Pacific Area President of the Church, Elder James J. Hamula.  President of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, and other government officials will also attend the cultural event.

The next day [Saturday 24 May] guests will witness a re-enactment of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 ― in what is now called the state of Utah, United States.  The headquarters of the Church has been located in Salt Lake City since that time. 

Following the re-enactment, members and guests will have the opportunity to take part in workshops and view presentations that will illustrate self-reliance principles such as recycling, food storage, and growing nutritious food.

Saturday evening Elder Hamula will speak at a special devotional meeting about the history and growth of the Church in French Polynesia and throughout the South Pacific.  A parade in the stadium with hundreds of past and current Mormon missionaries will follow Elder Hamula’s remarks.

French Polynesian Latter-day Saints have been involved in preparations and other celebrations for several months. 

A temporary information booth in Papeete has given visitors an opportunity to ask about the Church’s history and current presence in French Polynesia. Volunteers at this booth will continue to provide information to interested visitors until 1 June.

On 30 April ― the exact date of the missionaries’ arrival in Tubuai 1844 ― members of the Church participated in a torch relay walk around the circumference of the island of Tubuai.  Upon completion of the torch relay a plaque, honouring the first missionaries, was installed. A second torch relay around Tuamotu islands took place last week.   

On 2 May, members of the Church honoured the work of Henry Nott, a Protestant minister who was the first person to translate the Bible into Tahitian.  On this same day in 1844 – two days after the arrival of missionaries to French Polynesia – Henry Nott passed away.

Community service projects were carried out around French Polynesia over recent months by thousands of Church members with their families and friends.

Earlier this year French Polynesian President, Gaston Flosse, told visiting Latter-day Saint Apostle, Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Our young people need the teachings of your Church, and we are grateful for what you are doing for our country.”

Today there are approximately 22,000 Latter-day Saints in 82 congregations throughout French Polynesia.

Visit the Church’s Mormon Newsroom websites for news media, opinion leaders and the public in French and English.








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