Ground will be broken late in 1978 for the second temple in the South Pacific, to be built in American Samoa. Fifty thousand Saints in Samoa, Tonga, French Polynesia (Tahiti), and Fiji will be served by the new temple, which will be completed in 1980.
With the First Presidency’s announcement of the Samoa Temple, the world total of planned and finished temples reached twenty-one. Formerly, Saints in the islands now to be served by the new temple had to travel to the temple at Hamilton, New Zealand. Tahitian Saints will now have a thousand fewer miles to travel to the temple—and Samoan Saints will have a temple next door—or at least on the next island!
Samoa itself is divided into the independent nation of Samoa, with a population of 180,000, and American Samoa, a territory of the United States, with a population of 30,000. (At least 20,000 more American Samoans are living in Hawaii and California.) The Church is remarkably strong among the people of the South Pacific. Samoa has seven stakes; Tonga, a nearby independent nation, has five stakes and two mission districts; French Polynesia (Tahiti), more than a thousand miles to the east, has one stake and four districts; and Fiji, located to the west of Samoa, has four districts. Each island group has a mission of the Church, and the Saints make up 10 percent of the population of these islands.
The location will be announced later for the $1.5 million temple, which will be a one-story building designed so that a future addition could, if needed, double the temple’s capacity. The temple will probably be built of such local materials as lava stone and “some of the many fine hardwoods available in the area,” said Church Architect Emil B. Fetzer, who is in the process of designing the building. Also, the temple will be situated on high ground to protect it against flooding—and because of the heavy rainfall, the temple roof will have to function “as a giant umbrella for drainage efficiency,” though “the roof will be made as soundproof as possible, another consideration prompted by the heavy rains,” Brother Fetzer said.
Missionaries were sent to the South Pacific as early as 1842, when the Prophet Joseph Smith dispatched elders from Nauvoo, Illinois, to preach to the people there. Today thousands of Saints can testify to how well that missionary work went—and is still going.
Tufuga S. Atoa, Regional Representative for the Samoa Region, has been named chairman of the temple committee, composed of local Church leaders who will work with representatives of the Church Physical Facilities Department in the planning and construction of the temple, under the direction of the First Presidency.
As the Sao Paulo Temple in Brazil nears completion, the Samoa Temple joins the Japan, It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, and Seattle temples, which are also in the planning or building stages.