APIA, Samoa — Church members gathered on the Apia Samoa Temple grounds Aug. 5, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the temple's dedication even though the edifice was destroyed by fire a month earlier.
President Samuel H. Schwenke of the Pesega Samoa Stake presidency presided at the short ceremony.
Bishop Talitimu Toleafoa of the Pesega 6th Ward conducted the program, welcoming members to the temple grounds. He expressed gratitude for the old temple and said he is grateful that a new temple will again stand on the island.
Fire destroyed the 14,000-square-foot temple July 9, the first time in Church history an operational temple has burned. Construction on the new Apia Samoa Temple, utilizing a more recent temple design and the original Angel Moroni statue, has already begun.
At the conclusion of the gathering — the first time many members or missionaries had entered the grounds of the temple since the fire — President Schwenke gave a prayer of remembrance, gratitude and benediction.
"It was a special evening where we remembered our Father in Heaven and His goodness to us, His children," said Elder J. Knollin Haws.