The first Latter-day Saint missionaries, Hawaiians Kimo Belio and Samuela Manoa, arrived on the tiny island of Aunu'u in what is now American Samoa in 1863. These first missionaries were sent to Samoa by Walter Gibson, an enterprising apostate who had declared himself the "Chief President" of the Church in Hawaii and convinced the Hawaiian Saints that the Church in Salt Lake City ceased to exist because of attacks from Johnston's Army in 1857. Eventually, the Church was re-established in Hawaii, but Church officials were unaware that two missionaries had been sent to establish a branch of the Church in Samoa.

Many years later and after the death of Belio, Manoa became aware that the Church still existed and sent a letter to then President John Taylor. Joseph Dean, with his wife Florence and their infant son Jasper, was sent to become the first mission president in Samoa in 1888.

Joseph and Florence Dean with Jasper and new baby

The Church began to grow under the dedicated missionary service of early missionaries and President Dean. These missionaries were usually accompanied by their families and endured many hardships, including illness and death.

Translation of the Book of Mormon began in 1900 and was published as the Tusi a Momona in 1903.

Early Samoan mission presidents found the Church thrived when members gathers together and could strengthen each other. Thus, several "gathering places" were established to bring strength to the Church, including Mapusaga (Tutuila), Viola (Savai'i) and Sauniatu (Upolu).  The Church began to develop churches, schools, and plantations in these villages, which remain as strongholds of the Church in Samoa today. Between 1900-1920, 23 branches were established.


Through the years, many prophets and apostles have visited the Saints in Samoa. None were more memorable and significant to the Samoans than the visit of David O. McKay in 1921. While there, then Elder McKay visited Sauniatu, where the Saints had endured many persecutions, and pronounced marvelous blessings upon the faithful Samoan Saints. David O. McKay returned to Sauniatu in 1955 as President of the Church. There stands today a monument to memorialize those sacred events and Samoans' beloved Prophet.

President David O. McKay

The current mission home and office in Pesega was built in 1958 on land donated many years before by a Chinese business man named Ah Mu. This land now is the site of the mission office, mission home, temple, service center, distribution center, high school, housing for teachers and missionaries, and more.

Samoa Apia Mission Office

In 1962, the first stake, the Samoa Apia Stake, was organized. By 1974, Samoa became the first country in the world to be completely covered with stakes of Zion. Today, Samoa is home to 25 stakes and well over 100 wards and branches.

In 1983, President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the Samoan Temple. Sadly, in 2002, while under renovation, the temple caught fire and was completely destroyed. Within a week, the Church announced plans to rebuild the temple. Construction began a few months later, and a new magnificent temple was dedicated in 2005 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

After more than 150 years of service, the Lord's missionaries continue to build the Kingdom of God and invite others to come unto Christ in this pearl of the Pacific.