Monday, March 2, 2015

Churches of Samoa

Christianity is a very big part of Samoan life.  Everywhere we go, we see churches - from the small and simple chapels to grand cathedrals.  

Christianity has been a dominant part of Samoan life for well over 100 year.  It began with the London Missionary Society who sent representatives to the island in 1830.  The Congregational Church of Samoa, still sometimes referred to as "LMS", remains a strong presence here on the island.  Methodists and Catholics followed not long after the early successes by John Williams and his associates.  Peter Turner gained many converts as part of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society.  Catholics came in 1845 and today have a very strong influence here.  While these remain dominant religions of this island, there are also Jehovah Witness, Assembly of God, Seventh-day Adventists as well as others.  I even caught a quick glimpse of a Baha'i Temple (one of only eight in the world) on our travels one day.

This photo of Bahai Temple from Samoa Travel Authority
 at http://www.samoa.travel/sightseeing/x56/Bahai-Temple

The first LDS missionaries came to Samoa in 1843. The first formal mission area here was organized in 1888.   Acceptance of the faith has grown steadily since that time.   According to a survey performed by the Samoan Government Department of Statistics conducted in 2001, just 12.7% of the population of Samoa was LDS at that time.  (Saada, Angelica. 2008. p. vii.   "Samoa: A Truly Religious Place?")   Today there are over 75,000 members of the Church in Samoa, making up about 38% of the population. 

I appreciate the beauty of all the many churches.   I am grateful for the good people I am meeting here - no matter what their faith.  But because  I have a strong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. the building that means more to me than any other on this island is the one I see right out my window as I write this post.  I love the temples of our church and feel blessed to spend time there.             


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