News Story

Tongans Express Gratitude and Love for Their Pioneer Forebears

In the United States and Tonga, descendants celebrate 100 years of the Church in Fua'amotu

On August 13-15, 2021 a commemoration of the 100th year of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the village of Fua’amotu, in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

The celebration included an evening of cultural performances, a day of parading pioneer families and feasting, and a Sunday devotional where the history of the Church in Tonga and memories of the early pioneers were shared.

Tongans gathered together to express their joy and give respect, gratitude and love to the pioneers of the Church in Fua’amotu.

The Church first came to Tonga in 1891. In 1921, the first members of The Church in Fua’amotu were Sione Ma’u Tomasi and his wife, Mele Tupou ‘Ahio. Church meetings were held in their home, a small Tongan ‘fale’ (hut). Some of Sione’s siblings also joined the Church.

Sione Nau and Meleseini and their family who were already members, moved to Fua’amotu. Sione Ma’u and Sione Nau were called as Priesthood leaders of the small Church congregation.

As more people joined the Church, the location of the meeting place was moved in 1943 to the property of Viliami M. Hopoate, where a traditional Tongan thatched-roof house was built for the meetinghouse.

In 1956, the members moved into the village of Fua’amotu to properties given by Tungi, the Crown Prince, for the members to live on and build a chapel. The new brick chapel was completed and dedicated in 1958.

The Church continued to increase in membership and the first ward was organised in 1970.

Pita F. Hopoate as a child in the 1950's growing up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the village of Fua'amoto, Tonga.Photo courtesy of Pita F. Hopoate

Currently there are two wards in Fua’amotu. These wards have resulted in hundreds of faithful missionaries and stalwart members who have served in leadership positions of the Church.

“There will be many more devoted future leaders of the Church who will continue to bless the Saints and the people of Fua’amotu, where they grew up, and the lives of their posterity who were born in Tonga and in the USA,” said Pita F. Hopoate, a descendant of the first converts.

“We commemorate the 100th year of the Church in Fua’amotu to express our respect, gratitude and love to the pioneers of the Church in our village.

"And to strengthen our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ as we learn and study about the faith and dedication of the pioneers of our village where we grew up.”

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