The Apia Samoa Temple is the 22nd operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a rich history in Samoa. The first mission was established in 1888. This achievement was earned through great personal sacrifice by many of the early Mormon missionaries in the area. During this early time in the Church it was common for young married couples to be called on missions. One of these young missionary couples was Katie Eliza Hale Merrill and her husband, just three months after arriving in Samoa she became ill. She was pregnant and gave birth to the child prematurely. The baby died the next day, and Katie also died. Another couple, Thomas H. and Sarah M. Hilton, lost three of their young children to sickness while serving as missionaries in Samoa. One of the mission presidents, Ransom Stevens, also died while serving in Samoa after contracting typhoid fever. His wife was called back to Utah, and made the journey even though she was pregnant. Many others who worked as missionaries in Samoa paid a huge price to help establish the Church there, but the Church has thrived despite these difficulties, and today more than 29 percent of the total population are members of the Mormon Church. Throughout recent history, the annual baptism rate in Samoa has been around 1,000 baptisms. Testifying to the large number of Mormon members in the area, a Samoan postage stamp features the Apia Samoa Temple with the official cancellation mark featuring a line drawing of the angel Moroni statue.
The Apia Samoa Temple was announced on October 15, 1977. A groundbreaking ceremony and site dedication were held on February 19, 1981. Spencer W. Kimball gave the dedicatory prayer. The temple site is 2 acres. The design of the temple is modern with a single spire. The original temple was 14,560 square feet, but after remodeling, the total floor area is now 18,691 square feet. The temple offers two ordinance rooms and two sealing rooms. The exterior of the temple is finished with granite. The temple was open to the public for tours July 19th through the 30th, 1983. Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Apia Samoa Temple August 5-6 1983.
On July 9, 2003, a fire destroyed the temple. No one was hurt in the fire, because the temple was closed for expansion and renovation, and the fire occurred in the evening after workers had gone home. One week later, on July 16, 2003, The First Presidency sent a letter to the people of the area telling them that the temple would be rebuilt. On October 19, 2003, the site was rededicated and a groundbreaking ceremony was held. On January 25, 2005, the angel Moroni statue that had survived the fire was placed on the spire of the new building. After rebuilding, Mormon Church President Gordon B. Hinckley rededicated the temple on September 4, 2005. The Apia Samoa Temple is one of the more heavily used temples of the Mormon Church and serves 56,000 members in 16 stakes from American Samoa, and the islands of Upolu and Savai'j.