Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Country information: Micronesia

Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 107,500; Members, 3,841; Districts, 4; Branches, 20;Percent LDS, 3.5, or one in 28; Asia North Area; Micronesia Guam Mission.

Extending along the 1,800-mile Caroline Islands archipelago in the Pacific east of the Philippines, the Federated States of Micronesia have a culturally diverse population that speaks eight island dialects.

Until the 1950s missionary work in the Pacific was limited to the peoples of Polynesia and Australia. This part of the Pacific was first assigned to the Japanese Mission, then the Northern Far East, then the Southern Far East, and finally the Hawaii Honolulu Mission. In January 1975, President Robert E. Crandall of the Hawaii Honolulu Mission sent Callis Carleton and Jeffery Frame to Saipan, headquarters of the U.S. Trust Territory, in the Mariana Islands. This was the first missionary venture into Micronesia proper. Missionary work first began on Pohnpei in 1976, Chuuk and Yap in 1977, and Kosrae in 1985. Micronesia came under the Micronesia Guam Mission when the mission was created on 1 April 1980. Translation of The Book of Mormon in Trukese and Pohnpeian was completed in 1987. The first visit by a General Authority to Micronesia was John H. Groberg, Pacific Area executive administrator, who visited the fledgling branches in Yap and Pohnpei in January 1978.

Between 1976 and 1995 Church membership grew from a single person, Ohren R. Ohry of Pohnpei, to 2,467. At that time there were 839 members in Pohnpei, 1,122 in Chuuk, 308 in Yap, and 198 in Kosrae. In 1998 and 2000 LDS Charities sent shipments of education and medical supplies to support the hospitals on the islands of Yap, Chuuk, and Pohnpei.

On 1 July 2006, the Marshall Islands were divided from the Micronesia Guam Mission to form the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission.

POHNPEI

Missionary work began in Phonpei on 23 October 1976, when George L. Mortensen and Aldric L. Porter (Hawaii Honolulu Mission) arrived in the city of Kolonia. Missionaries were sent at the request of Ohren R. Ohry, who had joined the Church in August 1976 while attending BYU- Hawaii. Two more missionaries were assigned to Pohnpei, Brian D. Tate and Chris Harrison, who arrived on 13 January 1977. The first baptisms on the island were on 5 March 1977 when Ohry's wife, Rihne, other family members, and Siesero Salomon were baptized in the village of Mand. Naped S. Elias and his family along with Perden Samson were baptized in Kolonia a week later on 12 March 1977. The Mand and Kolonia Pohnpei branches were created shortly thereafter, first with missionaries as branch presidents, then with native leaders–Naped Elias as president of the Kolonia Branch and Johnny Bridge as president of the Mand Branch. The branches were initially in the Guam District. A third branch was created in Sapwalap (it became an independent branch in December 1977) and three meetinghouses were built between October 1980 and September 1981 in Sapwalap, Mand, and Kolonia. The Truk-Pohnpei District was created on 31 May 1981. The district was divided on 22 November 1985 and the Truk and Pohnpei districts were created. There are now four branches in Pohnpei, the fourth being in Sekere.

CHUUK

The first missionaries in Chuuk (formerly Truk), Donald M. Baldwin and Torlik Tima (Hawaii Honolulu Mission), arrived on 7 July 1977. They baptized T. M. Conrad Mailo and his wife, Nisor Cerly David, on 22 October 1977. The Truk Branch (later Mwan Branch) was created on 26 July 1979. By 1980 ,membership reached 170, and on 31 May 1981 the Truk-Pohnpei District was created. The first meetinghouse on Chuuk was dedicated on 24 April 1983. The Truk- Pohnpei District was divided in 1985 and the Truk (later renamed the Namoneau Chuuk District) and Pohnpei districts were created. There are now nine branches in Chuuk.

YAP

The Church came to Yap in 1977, when Charles Keliikipi, under contract to organize a police department on the island, arrived with his wife Odetta and their six children. The first missionaries, David S. Ige and Douglas Andrews, arrived on 14 November 1977. The first native Yapese to be baptized was Antonia Siso Isao on 18 March 1978. Afterwards several families joined the Church. A scouting program was initiated in June 1978, attracting 60 Boy Scouts and 15 Cub Scouts. Seven of the Boy Scouts were later baptized. The Yap Branch (later renamed Colonia Branch) was created on 26 July 1979 and a meetinghouse was completed on 13 January 1981. The Thos Branch was created in 1986. Seminary and institute classes were inaugurated on 9 September 1981. The Kosrae Micronesia and Yap Mirconesia districts were created on 14 and 18 March 1990 respectively. There are only the two branches in Yap, Colonia and Thol.

KOSRAE

Kosrae is the most religious of the Micronesia islands. About 95 percent of its inhabitants are Congregationalists. Work in Kosrae began in 1985 when Elders Matterson Ramon and Ioichey Diapulos, both natives of Pohnpei, arrived on 26 March. Within days of their arrival, they gave the radio station a news release introducing themselves and their mission. Less than two weeks later the missionaries received a letter from the Kosraean legislature asking them to stop missionary work. Despite little success, they worked hard to break down public opinion against the Church. The first Kosraen to be baptized was Isidro Abraham on 26 April 1986. The Lelu Branch was organized on 18 June 1986. A second branch was created in Utwe in 1988. The Kosrae Micronesia District was created on 14 March 1990. There are only the two branches in Kosrae, in Lelu and Utwa.

Sources: "Temple Moments–'Best part of life,'" Church News, 26 August 2000; R. Lanier Britsch, Unto the Isles of the Sea, 1986; Micronesia Guam Mission, Brief History of the Micronesia-Guam Mission, 1990, Church Archives; William W. Cannon, Beachheads in Micronesia, 1997; Yap Branch, Historical reports, Church Archives; Hawaii Honolulu Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; David M. Walden, The LDS Church on Ponape, 1979, Church Archives; Micronesia Guam Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Namoneas Chuuk District, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Kosrae District, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Yap District, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives.