It’s a fabulous day to reside upon the isle of the Pacific. Today the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revealed the designs and locations for two temples in the region.
The Port Vila Vanuatu and Tarawa Kiribati temples, both announced in October 2020, will share many design elements, almost to the point of being identical. Indeed, each building will be approximately 10,000 square feet across one level. Interior renderings and further design plans have yet to be released.
These images could be included in the Friend magazine as a “find the differences” game!
Vanuatu’s temple will be located on a 1.62-acre site at Port Vila’s Blacksands Crossroads, where the Church already has a meetinghouse. Plans call for not just a temple, but an additional building that will serve as an arrival center, distribution center, and house patron housing.
Google Maps does not list a meetinghouse immediately at the Blacksands Crossroads, instead showing the nearest one over a mile to the south, but there is a building marked “Mormons Church” that might very well be one of our houses of worship.
According to the Church News, Vanuatu has 10,210 members of the Church, with one stake and 37 congregations. One in every 30 residents of the country is a Latter-day Saint. The country (as well as Kiribati) is currently assigned to the Suva Fiji Temple, some 1,072 miles to the east. This will be the first temple in Vanuatu.
While the announcement of the Vanuatu temple took us by surprise, we had long predicted a temple in Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. The archipelagic nation is heavily LDS, with one in six residents being a member of the Church. There are two stakes in the country.
The temple will be located at Ambo, South Tarawa, and the project will also include a new meetinghouse and a patron housing facility. We choose to believe it’ll be somewhere near Moroni High School.
Fun trivia: Kiribati is the only country in the world in all four hemispheres. Also, don’t forget how to pronounce it! (“KEE-ruh-bas) And that makes us think of an old podcast episode from 2019!
About those identical temples of roughly 10,000 square feet. Despite some design differences, the buildings are likely quite similar to the Helena Montana Temple, which had renderings released mere weeks after its announcement. As we suspect with Helena, will these temples be built using prefabricated modular construction methods, which appears to be something the Church is investing in to accelerate temple construction? The Church has not released any information about a groundbreaking date, but if the temples are expected to be dedicated just over a year form groundbreaking, as with Helena, that’s a strong signal that the suspected experiment with modular temples is officially a go.
Great job, Melanesia and Micronesia!