Groundbreaking announced for temple in Vanuatu, an archipelago of 80-plus South Pacific islands

The March 4 ceremony will signal the start of construction for the Port Vila Vanuatu Temple, which was announced in October 2020

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced a groundbreaking date for the Port Vila Vanuatu Temple, which will serve Church members in the nation comprised of 80 islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

Elder K. Brett Nattress, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Pacific Area, will preside at the Saturday, March 4, invitation-only event in Port Vila, the capital city of the archipelago west of Fiji consisting of 13 principal islands and some 70 smaller ones.

The groundbreaking was announced Monday, Jan. 30, on

President Russell M. Nelson announced a temple for Port Vila, Vanuatu, on Oct. 4, 2020, during October 2020 general conference.

On May 19, 2021, the Church announced the temple’s site location and exterior rendering. A single-story, 10,000-square-foot building with a center spire will be built on the 1.62-acre site at Port Vila’s Blacksands Crossroads, where a Church meetinghouse is located. Plans call for the construction of an ancillary building, which will include an arrival center, patron housing and distribution center.

Site location map for the Port Vila Vanuatu Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Vanuatu is home to more than 11,000 Latter-day Saints, one stake, three districts and 37 congregations. With a national population of a little more than 300,000, one out of every 28 island residents is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.

The island nation is currently part of the Suva Fiji Temple district. But that temple is more than 660 miles away (more than 1,070 kilometers), due east across the Pacific Ocean.

A branch in Port Vila was first organized in July 1973, with missionary work beginning the following year after several Latter-day Saint families moved there from Tonga. The first full-time missionaries arrived in January 1975.  

On his tour of Pacific islands in June 2003, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke to what was the largest group ever assembled in Vanuatu, with 2,212 Latter-day Saints and friends gathered throughout the meetinghouse chapel, classrooms and doorways and out onto the lawns.

The full Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was published in the Bislama language in July 2004. 

In 2012, the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission was created, from realignments of the Fiji Suva and Papua New Guinea Port Moresby missions.

And in June 2015, some 2,000 Latter-day Saints and guests gathered at the Fenea Pacifik Convention Centre in Port Vila to witness the creation of the Church’s first stake in Vanuatu. The event had originally been scheduled in April of that year but was postponed after Cyclone Pam — a category 5 storm that struck with devastating force in mid-March — caused extensive damage across 22 of the 83 islands that make up Vanuatu, damaging or destroying many homes, decimating valuable export crops and resulting in the deaths of 11 people.

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