“First Stake in Kiribati Formed, Islands Dedicated,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 107–8
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles created the first stake in Kiribati on 11 August after he had dedicated, just one day earlier, the Pacific island groups of Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Wallis, Futuna, and Vanuatu for the preaching of the gospel.
The Tarawa Kiribati Stake is headquartered in Tarawa, near where the international dateline crosses the equator. Tarawa, composed of several small islands, is one of three Micronesian coral atoll groups that compose the island republic of Kiribati, which stretches out for more than two million square miles in the central Pacific.
The gospel was first introduced on Tarawa only about 25 years ago, but currently there are approximately 4,600 members among a population of 70,000 in the republic. Two-thirds of the republic’s citizens live on Tarawa, and 2,400 of those are members of the newly formed stake.
On Saturday, 10 August, Elder Perry dedicated the six islands for the preaching of the gospel. “Thou hast kept these islands isolated from the worldly things that bring contention among the people, where their understanding of the gospel truths that thou has ordained for thy children here on earth will be simple and plain,” Elder Perry said in the dedicatory prayer. “Our hearts go out to thee in gratitude, dear Father, for the great truths of the everlasting gospel that have been established here on these islands.”
After Elder Perry returned home from his assignment in Kiribati, he noted: “There is such a community feeling among the Saints on these islands. It gives you such an uplift. When you meet with them, you can’t help but have tears in your eyes. I just fell in love with the people. To think we would have this kind of representation today as members of the Church on these islands is absolutely amazing.
“The Lord must have a great love for the people of the isles of the sea because he mentions them so many times in the scriptures,” he continued. “I think the promises he made are being fulfilled now as we see the growth of the Church in these island nations.”