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    Kiribati

    Made up of 36 Micronesian islands in the mid-Pacific where the equator and international dateline meet, Kiribati is a republic which became independent in 1979. The island's population speaks Gilbertese and English. About half of the population is Protestant and half Roman Catholic.

    The Church was introduced to Kiribati when Waitea Abiuta, a school teacher and headmaster of a school, asked to have graduates from his school attend Liahona High School in Tonga. Fijian mission president Eb L. Davis visited Kiribati in September 1972 and approved 12 students to come to the Church school. Students were converted at the high school and they began serving as missionaries in Kiribati on 19 October 1975.

    Among those who joined the Church were Waitea Abiuta and several of the staff and students of the school. However, when opposition to the Church arose, enrollment at the school declined. In August 1976, Grant and Pat Howlett, Church educators at Liahona High, were called to teach at the Kiribati school. Through their efforts, enrollment increased and government relations improved. Later, the Church purchased the school, renamed it Moroni Community School, and other teachers arrived from Tonga as enrollment continued to increase.

    In 1982, a new Church building was completed, and Buren Ratieta, Gilbertese branch (a small congregation) president, held services in February of that year. Among the 250 who attended the dedicatory services was the president of the Kiribati Republic, Ieremia T. Tabai. He said government leaders at first feared the Church would divide the people, but when he saw the great social contribution the Church made, he became happy to cooperate with the Church. Since that time, missionary work has expanded to more distant islands in Kiribati.

    In the fall of 1993, a group of first-time basketball players from Moroni High School, the age of United States high school sophomores and juniors, won the championship of Kiribati in their division. They also defeated the 20-30-year-olds division champions. In 1994, Teatao Teanaki, president of the Republic, was the main speaker at the graduation ceremony at Moroni High School.

    On 11 August 1996, Elder L. Tom Perry created the Tarawa Kiribati Stake (diocese), the first stake in the country.

    For Journalist Use Only

    Richard Hunter
    New Zealand
    Phone:  64(9)488-5572
    Mobile: 64-21-240-7804

    E-mail: Hunterra@ldschurch.org

    19,690

    Total Church Membership

    2

    Family History Centers

    30

    Congregations

    North America

    9,253,590

    Total Church Membership

    192

    Missions

    2,866

    Family History Centers

    18,159

    Congregations

    109

    Temples

    South America

    4,038,045

    Total Church Membership

    94

    Missions

    979

    Family History Centers

    5,545

    Congregations

    17

    Temples

    Europe

    516,003

    Total Church Membership

    43

    Missions

    710

    Family History Centers

    1,422

    Congregations

    12

    Temples

    Asia

    1,155,764

    Total Church Membership

    42

    Missions

    333

    Family History Centers

    1,973

    Congregations

    8

    Temples

    Oceania (Pacific)

    552,825

    Total Church Membership

    18

    Missions

    338

    Family History Centers

    1,251

    Congregations

    10

    Temples

    Africa

    578,310

    Total Church Membership

    31

    Missions

    285

    Family History Centers

    2,004

    Congregations

    3

    Temples

    Worldwide Statistics

    16,118,169

    Total Church Membership

    421

    Missions

    159

    Temples

    30,506

    Congregations

    67,049

    Missionaries

    15

    Missionary Training Centers

    4

    Universities & Colleges

    404,270

    Seminary Students Enrollment

    357,760

    Institute Student Enrollment

    5,100

    Family History Centers

    10,238

    Welfare Services Missionaries (Incl. Humanitarian Service Missionaries)

    188

    Published Languages

    140

    Countries with Family History Centers

    189

    Countries Receiving Humanitarian Aid (Since 1985)