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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hawaii
LDS Laie Hawaii Temple front view.jpg
The Laie Hawaii Temple is the oldest operating LDS temple outside of Utah.
Area NA West
Members74,952 (2022) [1]
Total Congregations143
Family History Centers26 [2]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) was established in the Hawaiian Islands in 1850, 11 years after the Edict of Toleration was decreed by Kamehameha III, giving the underground Hawaii Catholic Church the right to worship, and at the same time allowing other faith traditions to begin establishing themselves.

The church's first missionary to have success among the Hawaiians was George Q. Cannon. Among his earliest converts were men well-versed in the Hawaiian language, such as Jonatana Napela and Uaua. After the construction of the Hawaii Temple, the Latter-day Saints founded the Church College of Hawaii, now Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYU-Hawaii), along with the associated Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), the state's largest living museum, and an entertainment center; [3] which draws a million visitors annually. As the Latter-day Saint population in Hawaii continued to increase, a second church temple for the islands, the Kona Hawaii Temple, was completed in Kailua Kona on the island of Hawaii in 2000.

Hawaii has the highest concentration of Latter-day Saints of U.S. states that do not border Utah. [4] The LDS Church is the 2nd largest denomination in Hawaii, behind the Roman Catholic Church. [5]


Honolulu Sunday School ca 1902
Membership in Hawaii
1851 220
1920 10,745
1930 14,433
1940 9,789
1950 11,855
1960 18,327
1970 23,377
1980 30,241
*1989 49,000
1999 55,361
2009 68,128
2019 75,009
*Membership was published as a rounded number.
Source: Windall J. Ashton; Jim M. Wall, Deseret News, various years, Church Almanac Country Information: Arizona [1]

The church's first ten missionaries departed San Francisco for Hawaii during the California Gold Rush on the ship Imaum of Muscat, arriving on December 12, 1850, in Honolulu Harbor of what was then known as the Sandwich Islands. [6] With Hiram Clark presiding, the missionaries included Henry Bigler, Hiram Blackwell, George Q. Cannon, John Dixon, William Farrer, James Hawkins, James Keeler, Thomas Morris, and Thomas Whittle. A day after their arrival the group climbed a hill above Honolulu (Pacific Heights), constructed a small, makeshift altar and said a prayer. A week later, the ten missionaries received their assignments: Farrer and Dixon headed to the island of Kaua'i, Cannon, Keeler, and Bigler to Lahaina on the island of Maui, Blackwell and Hawkins to the Big Island of Hawaii, with Morris, Whittle, and Clark staying behind in Honolulu. This group formed the basis of the Sandwich Islands Mission. [7] The church's first congregation in Hawaii was established on the island of Maui in 1851. [8] Among the early converts of Cannon were three prominent native Hawaiians: Napela, Uaua and Kaleohano who would later serve as prominent missionaries and leaders in the LDS Church. [9]

Missionaries lead a group of Hawaiian Latter-day Saints in establishing a colony on the island of Lānaʻi in 1854. [10] In 1857, the American missionaries left due to the Utah War. No new missionaries came until Walter M. Gibson arrived in 1861. Gibson instituted irregular activities such as selling the priesthood. Some local leaders, such as Napela, sent letters to Salt Lake City asking for Gibson to be replaced. In response, Ezra T. Benson and Lorenzo Snow of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were sent to take over the leadership of the mission, with the assistance of Joseph F. Smith, who had been a missionary in Hawaii for much of the 1850s. Most of the membership followed Benson, Snow, and Smith, but in the process ownership of the property on Lanai was lost. A new colony for Hawaiian Latter-day Saints was established in Lāʻie. [11]

In 1889, Iosepa, Utah was founded as a colony for Hawaiian Latter-day Saints. This colony functioned until 1915 when the saints there were encouraged to return to Hawaii in anticipation of the building of a temple there. The first stake in Hawaii was organized in 1935. [12]

In 1937, the Japanese Mission was organized in Hawaii to focus on teaching the ethnic Japanese in Hawaii. This mission existed until 1950 when it was merged into the Hawaiian mission. [13]

County Statistics

List of LDS Church adherents in each county as of 2010 according to the Association of Religion Data Archives: [14]

County Congregations Adherents % of Population
Hawaii 17 10,422 5.63
Honolulu 97 48,750 5.11
Kauai 6 3,488 5.20
Maui 14 7,212 4.66


Temples in Hawaii

Red = Operating
Blue = Under construction
Yellow = Announced
Black = Closed for renovation

The Laie Hawaii Temple, formerly known as the Hawaiian Temple or the Hawaii Temple until a standard naming convention for LDS temples was adopted in the early 2000s, is located on the northeast shore of the island of Oʻahu. The temple sits on a small hill a half-mile from the Pacific Ocean in the town of Laie, 35 miles (56 km) from Honolulu. Along with BYU-Hawaii and the PCC, the temple plays an important role in the town of Laie, [15] with the temple Visitors' Center attracting more than 100,000 people annually. [16]

The Hawaii Temple was the first temple the LDS Church built outside of the continental United States. The temple is also the oldest to operate outside of Utah, and the fifth-oldest still in operation. The site of the temple was dedicated by church president Joseph F. Smith on June 1, 1915, and the completed structure was dedicated by church president Heber J. Grant on November 27, 1919.

The Kona Hawaii Temple became the church's seventieth temple, announced on May 7, 1998. Located in the town of Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii, the site of Kona Hawaii Temple was dedicated on March 13, 1999. The structure itself was constructed in concrete, white marble and some native materials. Architects used a simple classical design featuring a single spire. The completion and official dedication was celebrated on January 23, 2000 by church president Gordon B. Hinckley.

LDS Laie Hawaii Temple front view.jpg
Laie, Hawaii, United States
October 1, 1915 by Joseph F. Smith
June 1, 1915 by Joseph F. Smith
November 27, 1919 by Heber J. Grant
June 13, 1978 by Spencer W. Kimball [19]
42,100 sq ft (3,910 m2) on a 11.4-acre (4.6 ha) site
Solomon's Temple, no spire - designed by Hyrum Pope and Harold Burton
Thomas S. Monson rededicated the Laie Hawaii Temple on November 20, 2010 [17] following nearly 2 years of renovations that began December 29, 2008. [18] The remodel completed in 1978 expanded the temple from 10,500 square feet (980 m2) to over 47,000 square feet (4,400 m2).
Kona Hawaii Temple.jpg
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, U.S.
May 7, 1998 by Gordon B. Hinckley
March 13, 1999 by John B. Dickson
January 23, 2000 by Gordon B. Hinckley
10,700 sq ft (990 m2) on a 7.02-acre (2.84 ha) site
Classic modern, single-spire design - designed by Church A & E Services, Bob Lowder

See also


  1. ^ a b "Facts and Statistics: Statistics by State: Hawaii", Newsroom, LDS Church, retrieved 28 May 2022
  2. ^ Category:Hawaii Family History Centers,, retrieved March 28, 2022
  3. ^ Polynesian Cultural Center Official Site. Retrieved on 2010-12-22.
  4. ^ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints membership statistics (United States)
  5. ^ "The Association of Religion Data Archives | State Membership Report". Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  6. ^ Bureau of Information 1964, pp. 3.
  7. ^ Wallace III 2000
  8. ^ Bureau of Information 1964, pp. 7.
  9. ^ LDS Church Almanac 2010 Edition, p. 331
  10. ^ Bureau of Information 1964, pp. 8.
  11. ^ LDS Church Almanac 2010 edition, p. 331
  12. ^ LDS Church Alamanc, 2010 edition, p. 331
  13. ^ LDS Church Almanac, 2010 edition, p. 331
  14. ^ "The Association of Religion Data Archives | State Membership Report". Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  15. ^ Aikau, Hokulani K. (Winter 2008). "Resisting Exile in the Homeland: He Mo'olemo No Lā'ie". American Indian Quarterly. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. 32 (1): 70–95. doi: 10.1353/aiq.2008.0003. ISSN  0095-182X. S2CID  161421626.
  16. ^ Kayal, Michele (2004-11-27). "Mormons Spruce Up Their Aging Hawaiian Outpost". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  17. ^ "Laie Hawaii Temple Rededicated by President Monson", Newsroom (News Release), LDS Church, November 21, 2010
  18. ^ "Plans announced for renovation of Laie Hawaii Temple", Deseret News, October 7, 2008
  19. ^ "Dedications at Seattle, Temple Square, Hawaii, and Nauvoo", Ensign (News of the Church), July 1978


Further reading

External links