Building Faith—and Houses of Worship—in Vanuatu

Building Faith—and Houses of Worship—in Vanuatu

Latter-day Saints take 19 days to construct ‘bush chapel’ on Island of Malekula

News Release

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the Vanuatu island of Malekula needed a church building to house their expanding membership—so they built a new district centre, affectionately called by locals a “bush chapel.”


The 22 metre long and 12 metre wide building—made of hardwood posts and rafters, coconut timbers for the walls, and over 2,000 pieces of woven palm tree leaves—was constructed in 19 days by Church members from the villages of Roy and Kinalum.

At a recent conference attended by around 800 Malekula Latter-day Saints and friends, it was noted that the number 19 was significant for local Church members for another reason. It’s been 19 years since the first Malekula resident was baptised into the Church.

Elder Andrew O’Riordan, a senior leader in the Pacific Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, travelled from Australia to attend the conference.

Reflecting on two days of meetings, Elder O’Riordan said, “I am very impressed how strong the Church is, considering that there’s only been members here on this island for 19 years.”

According to local Church leader, Rayman Vanu, the conference was the largest gathering ever of Latter-day Saints on the island.

Elder O’Riordan said he felt the power, strength and the maturity of the Malekula Latter-day Saints.

“And I certainly felt the goodness of the people,” he continued.  “What a blessing to be with them.”


Elder O’Riordan promised continued growth on Malekula as Church members continue to follow Jesus Christ, and as they accept and grow in their leadership responsibilities.

President Paul W. Granger and his wife Sister Gayle A. Granger—who lead the Church’s missionaries in Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Solomon Islands—accompanied Elder O’Riordan at the conference.

President Granger spoke to the large congregation encouraging them to keep their sacred promises to follow Jesus Christ and to reach out and share the gospel with people in their villages.

The messages shared by the visiting Church leaders at the conference were what the local members needed, according to President Vanu.

He called the messages “inspired” and aimed at helping individuals in their personal lives, and in their families.

Likening the building of the new house of worship to the building of strong individuals and families, President Granger said: “This is the biggest bush chapel ever constructed in the history of the Church in Vanuatu. The construction of this fine bush chapel is a testimony of the faith of the members in Malekula.”

He added that plans are underway to build a similar structure on the southern island of Tanna prior to the Tanna semi-annual conference scheduled to be held in March 2017.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is nearly 8,000 strong in Vanuatu, with the largest congregations on the island of Efate where the capital city of Port Vila is located.

The Republic of Vanuatu, located in the middle of the South Pacific approximately 1,900 kilometres northeast of Australia, is an archipelago made up of 83 small islands. Around 65 of the islands are inhabited. The total population of Vanuatu is just over 200,000.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.