The Church first went to Fiji in 1924 when member Mele Ashley emigrated from Tonga to Fiji with her children. In the 1950s other families from Tonga and Samoa moved to Fiji and began holding Church meetings in Suva. The first missionaries assigned to Fiji were Elders Boyd I. Harris and Sheldon I. Abbott, from the Tonga Mission. These missionaries, with 14 Fijian members, organized the Suva Branch on 5 September 1954. In 1955 President David O. McKay visited Fiji; he met with the missionaries and attended Church services in a home. The Fiji Mission was created on 23 July 1971 and the Fiji Suva Stake was organized on 12 July 1983.
Over the years missionary work has moved slowly because of a government quota placed on missionary visas at times as few as two were allowed. After a bloodless military coup in 1987, the quota was lifted. Since then Church growth has more than doubled.
In 1997 President Gordon B. Hinckley met with more than 10,000 members in a national stadium. In May 1999 the Church began construction on a temple in Suva, Fiji. By the beginning of the year 2000, there were 11,998 members, four stakes, and 41 wards and branches in a country with a population of 802,000 scattered over numerous islands.
[Year-end 2005: Est. population, 893,000; Members, 14,120; Stakes, 4; Wards, 23; Branches, 21; Missions, 1; Districts, 2; Temples, Percent LDS; 1.5, or one in 64; Source 2007 Church Almanac.]
Meek, Shirleen. “First Islands of Faith.” Ensign 20 (December 1990): 32-37.
1999-2000 Church Almanac. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1998. 317-18.
CRAIG K. MANSCILL
From Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 374-75. Used with the permission of the Deseret Book Company. Copies prohibited by law.