Announced: May 7, 1998.
Location: Corner of Princess Road and Lakeba Street, Suva, Fiji; phone (679) 380-565; no clothing rental.
Site: 10 acres.
Exterior finish: Granite.
Temple design: Traditional.
Architects: Conway Beg of Architects Pacific.
Project manager: Jerry Sears.
Contractor: Fletcher Construction Co.
Rooms: Celestial room, two endowment rooms, two sealing rooms, baptistry.
Total floor area: 10,700 square feet.
Dimensions: 149 feet by 77 feet.
District: Five stakes and six districts in Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu, New Caledonia.
Groundbreaking, site dedication: May 8, 1999, by Elder Earl M. Monson of the Seventy and second counselor in the Pacific Islands Area presidency.
Dedication: June 18, 2000, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; 1 session.
Done by President Gordon B. Hinckley
Almighty Father, Thou great Elohim, Thou who presides in the heavens and is the Father of all mankind, we Thy thankful children bow in reverence before Thee.
We are grateful for this day of dedication, that Thou hast favored us with a temple in this island nation. No longer will we have to travel far across the seas to do that work which Thou hast established as sacred and necessary for Thy Saints in this latter-day dispensation. Thou hast heard our prayers and hearkened to our entreaties that this blessing might come to us. How beautiful is Thy house, O Lord. How wonderful is the great plan of happiness for Thy children.
In the authority of the holy priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ, we dedicate this the Suva Fiji Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unto Thee and unto Him. We consecrate unto Thee the grounds on which this temple stands. We consecrate the structure from the footings to the figure of Moroni. We consecrate the beautiful baptistry, the ordinance rooms, the beautiful celestial room, the sealing rooms with their sacred altars, and every other space and facility of Thy house. Protect it from intrusion by those who would defile it in any way. May it be a house of peace, a house of holiness, a house of God, sacred to all who look upon it.
Please, dear Father, accept it as the gift of our hands and our hearts. It is made possible through the faithful consecrations of Thy people throughout the world, and to each of them we express our gratitude. May our offerings help to establish other temples wherever they may be needed, that Thy people may partake of the ordinances of these holy houses, ordinances which are sacred, which are divine in their nature, and which are everlasting in their consequences.
Bless Thy faithful Saints everywhere. O Lord, deliver thy people from strife and contention. Prosper them in their affairs. Protect them from harm and evil.
Endow with power those who go forth from this house as Thine authorized servants to carry the message of the eternal gospel to the people of the world. Let Thy inspiration rest upon them. May the Holy Ghost be their companion. May they speak words of truth with great power. May they be protected from harm and evil.
Bless those who will serve in this house, receiving the eternal ordinances which will be administered here. May families here be sealed together for all eternity and may a knowledge of Thy divine purposes rest upon them and guide them in their labors. May they in very deed become saviors on Mount Zion.
We pray for those who direct the work here, the temple presidency and the matron and her assistants. May they not weary in the great responsibility that is theirs, but be granted strength and vitality to carry forward the work here to be performed. Bless all who labor with them as workers that each may be granted a spirit of service and consecration as they assist Thee in Thy great work of bringing immortality and eternal life unto Thy children of all generations.
We pray dear Father that these beautiful islands may be blessed with peace, that there shall be no abridgement of the great freedom of worship afforded by the government of this land. May Thy Saints be recognized as good citizens and may Thy work grow and flourish in this favored part of Thy vineyard.
Forgive our shortcomings of the past, and help us to rise above them as men and women of the covenant.
Almighty God, we acknowledge Thee as the giver of every good gift. We thank Thee. We pledge to Thee our love and service. We love Thee, our Eternal Father. We love Thy Divine Son, who gave His life for each of us. May we go forward as those who have taken upon ourselves His holy name with a pledge to keep His commandments, we humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
‘Warm spirit’ prevails in Fiji
By Alan Wakeley
Director of Public Affairs, Pacific Area
SUVA, Fiji — Elder Earl M. Monson of the Seventy and second counselor in the Pacific Island Area presidency broke ground May 8 to symbolically commence the construction of the Suva Fiji Temple — the most significant event for the Church in the island nation since it began operations here in the 1950s.
The temple, announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley during the 1998 April general conference, will serve the members in Fiji and nearby island nations, including Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.
In turning the first spade of earth at the site, which is in a picturesque location not far from the downtown area of Fiji's capital city, Suva, Elder Monson told an audience of more than 500 Church members and local dignitaries, "It will be a privilege for many of you to watch as the temple grows from where we are today to a beautiful structure on this scenic hillside."
Elder Monson said the temple will stand as a reminder of the intention God has for families to be eternal. "It will be wonderful for mothers and fathers to be able to point to this temple and say that this is where we were sealed for eternity and their families will have a sense of peace and assurance that will help them through difficult times," he said.
Referring to the great era of temple building initiated by President Hinckley, Elder Monson continued: "In many ways we are preparing for the Second Coming of the Savior to the earth, but equally important is that we are preparing family members to meet Him. It is wonderful to know the steps to be taken on the strait and narrow path, defined by the Savior, that lead to eternal life, and to know how families and the temple are interlocked with them."
Formerly owned by the Australian government, the site was identified by President Hinckley in October 1997 as the preferred location for the temple. With views of the Pacific Ocean from three sides of the property, the land is located at one of the highest points in Suva.
After almost a week of rain, some were concerned the weather and site conditions were not conducive for the groundbreaking ceremony. However, for the one hour of the ceremony there were nothing more than a few sprinkles of rain. Gathered around a temporary shelter, the members and their guests stood on wide swathes of protective material to stop their feet from sinking into the ground as they listened to two Suva stake presidents, Paul Whippy and Josefa Sokia, and Elder Monson describe why the building was of such significance to both members of the Church and the people of Fiji.
In spite of cloudy skies and wet grounds, reported Elder Monson, "a warm and wonderful spirit prevailed and all felt a deep sense of gratitude for the wonderful opportunity of having a new temple."
After Elder Monson's remarks and his site dedicatory prayer, Church leaders and members walked a few yards up an incline on the property to break the ground at the exact point the 10,000-square-foot temple will be located. Assisting Elder Monson were local priesthood leaders. Children and other local members also participated in breaking the soil.
There are 11,000 members of the Church in Fiji. Members from the four stakes located on the main island of Viti Levu and the two districts located on the nearby island of Vanua Levu, presently travel to temples in Tonga, Samoa or New Zealand to participate in temple ordinances.
In addition to the temple, Suva city officials gave permission for the construction of a stake center on the new site when such a facility is deemed necessary.
Eighteen chapels and two Church-operated schools are located in Fiji.
‘Fortress of faith’ prompts brotherhood and tears
SUVA, Fiji — In spite of major political uncertainty, the Suva Fiji Temple was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley on Sunday, June 18.
To protect Church members from potential danger, the First Presidency elected to conduct a small dedicatory service attended by members of the local temple committee and their families.
Among the guests in the dedicatory service, which was held in the celestial room of the temple, were 60 Latter-day Saints, both young and old. These included presidencies of the four stakes in Fiji and the newly called temple presidency and their wives. Another 20 Church members, from local Suva stakes, performed three choir selections which, because of their vocal excellence and spiritual power, brought many in the congregation to tears.
Following the dedication, President Hinckley described the great feeling of brotherhood that he felt in meeting with the members in Fiji.
"There was a great outpouring of the Spirit, matched by the feeling of good fellowship among those in attendance," he said.
Many present commented on the fact that indigenous Fijian Church members were mingling in love and unity with Indian members, despite the political unrest in the country.
During the visit, President Hinckley and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve set apart the temple president, Sitiveni Bale, his counselors and the matron and her assistants.
The Suva Fiji Temple is situated in prominent hills a few-minutes' drive above the Suva city center. The site of the temple, formerly owned by the Australian government, is near ambassadorial residences in the suburb of Samabula and has a commanding view of the city and the Pacific Ocean on three sides.
Pacific Islands Area President, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Seventy, said the hand of the Lord has been evident in the selection of the site from the beginning.
"President Hinckley first identified [the Samabula property] as the site for the temple in October of 1997," he said. "At that time the owners of the property seemed willing to sell it. Subsequently, they took it off the market. Though many efforts were made to acquire it, it was not available. Three other sites were identified and were about to be taken to the Brethren for approval when the original owner called and said that the property would be sold to the Church and at a very reasonable price."
Elder Cook quoted from the area history prepared by former Pacific Islands Executive Secretary, Elder Allen Christensen. The history records that, while preparing the site for construction, several large underground concrete bunkers were discovered. "They had been erected during World War II for the defense of Suva," wrote Elder Christensen. "Where once stood structures erected to resist [invasion] will now stand a fortress of faith, a House of the Lord . . . where the blessings of eternity can be given to the faithful."
The Church was introduced to Fiji when Latter-day Saint families from Tonga and Samoa began to hold Church meetings in Suva. The first missionaries, Elders Boyd L. Harris and Sheldon L. Abbott, organized the Suva Branch on Sept. 5, 1954. Work proceeded slowly because of the multiple languages spoken in Fiji and the availability of only two missionary visas at one time.
In January 1955, President David O. McKay had an aircraft layover in Suva. While meeting with the small group of Church members and missionaries, he urged the building of a meetinghouse. Anticipating great future growth, the meetinghouse that was later built was nearly the size of a stake center. Three hundred attended dedicatory services for the new meetinghouse in 1958. About that time, the number of missionaries serving here was increased by six.
Church growth was fostered when a Church school was established in 1969. In 1975, the LDS Fiji Technical College was opened.
Elder Holland, who was then Church Commissioner of Education, dedicated the college. He described his feelings at being in Fiji on two significant occasions in the history of the Church in this island nation.
"I feel most honored to have participated in the dedication of both the school and now the temple," he said.
The Suva Fiji Stake was organized on June 12, 1983. At year-end 1983, membership in Fiji was 2,722. Today, there are more than 14,000 members in four stakes and two districts. The size of the Suva Fiji Temple district is much larger at 23,117 because the temple also serves members in the nearby island nations of New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.
The First Presidency made the decision to proceed with a low-key dedication just a few days before the event. This followed a public open house which, in spite of little publicity, and a deliberately unobtrusive approach, attracted 16,423 members of the general public, 300 community leaders and 304 neighbors and contractors.
Elder Cook, accompanied by Blake Rosenvall of the Temple Department and Alan Wakely of the Pacific Public Affairs Department, conducted the spoken tours for community leaders and neighbors. "We had the privilege of taking a large number of visitors through the temple," said Elder Cook.
"As they entered the temple they initially showed the evidence of the political crisis that exists in Suva. But, as we took them through the temple, we saw the cares of the world melt away and, by the time they reached the Celestial Room, you could tell that they were experiencing something very special.
"One person, an Indian woman who had been a member of parliament, stood against the wall and as she looked around the Celestial Room she closed her eyes, obviously in prayer, and great big tears ran down her cheeks."
According to Sister Lolene Adams, a Church Educational System missionary, who, with her husband, Elder Ron Adams, helped to organize the special-guest tour program, these feelings were echoed in the comments of many others who visited during the six-day open house period.
"Three high-ranking military men came through and were very quiet and reserved when they viewed the introductory video," she said. "I spoke with the second-in-command and asked how he felt when he looked in the reflections in the mirrors in the celestial room. He said he had studied eternal life for many years and had never understood it but when he looked in the mirrors it all came clear to him and he was excited."
Sister Adams said the senior officer asked if they could bring the full military council back if it were possible. "Because of the strife in Fiji, he felt that the temple was a place they could come and close out the outside world . . . and find peace."
Changing public attitudes toward the Church is often one of the major results of a temple open house. On Saturday, June 10, three busloads of members and people of other faiths came from the village of Toga to go through the temple. Sister Alanieta Logavatu, who is a member of the Toga Branch of the Nausori Fiji Stake, described a remarkable change in one lady who had previously held strong views against the Church.
"As she got off the bus, she said she had this wonderful feeling," said Sister Logavatu. "The feeling became stronger as she made her way towards the temple and then went through the video presentation. She remembered all those unkind things she had said about the LDS Church and started to pray earnestly for forgiveness before entering the temple."
As she was relating this account to Sister Logavatu, after having gone through the temple, she could not hold back the tears. "Before she left she told me, 'Today I know this is the Lord's true Church. Please send the missionaries.' What a wonderful blessing the temple open house has been," said Sister Logavatu.
Temple committee coordinator Paul Whippy said that there was a wonderful feeling of unity, peace and love associated with the preparations for the temple open house and dedication. "We could have had a great many problems," said Brother Whippy, who is also president of the Suva Fiji Stake. "The military authorities could have told us to stop our efforts. However, the Spirit of the Lord has been with us in our planning and implementation."
President Whippy said that while "we felt worried about the surrounding events, we just felt confident that it would go well, no matter what was happening in the community."