On July 15, 1891, Brigham Smoot and Alva Butler, the first Latter-day Saint missionaries in Tonga, arrived in Nuku‘alofa. News of their arrival spread quickly, and the following day they found audience with King George Tupou I. The king graciously listened as the missionaries’ translator read the Articles of Faith in Tongan. Despite having recently created the Free Church of Tonga, the king granted the missionaries permission to preach in the country. With little success, however, the mission closed in 1897, having baptized fewer than 15 people.
Ten years later, missionaries organized a school in Neiafu, where one member lived, and began preaching throughout the islands. In the century since then, the Church has organized dozens of schools throughout Tonga. Today, seven of those schools (five middle schools and two high schools) continue to operate. Generations of Latter-day Saints have shared both skills from their education and the message of the restored gospel in their communities, and many thousands of Tongans have joined the Church. Today, more than half the population of Tonga are members of the Church.
Saints in Tonga have shown exceptional faith and diligence in living the gospel, exemplifying the scriptural call to “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; … to see the salvation of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17). The history of the Church in Tonga is filled with faithful members who have trusted in God, accepted His commands, and worked faithfully to build the Church in their homeland.
Official Name: Kingdom of Tonga/Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga
Largest City: Nuku‘alofa
Official Languages: Tongan and English
Land Area: 717 km2 (277 mi2)
Church Area: Pacific
Missions: 1 (Nuku‘alofa)
Temples: 2 (Neiafu and Nuku‘alofa)