Latter-day Saint Missionaries Encounter the London Missionary Society in the South Pacific, 1844–1852
This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by Fred E. Woods. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.
In fall 1843, four Latter-day Saints were called as the first missionaries to the South Pacific. One, Knowlton Hanks, died on the voyage. In May 1844, Addison Pratt began proselytizing on the island of Tubuai, 350 miles south of Tahiti. Benjamin Grouard and Noah Rogers went on to Tahiti, but after a few months they were forced to leave by the French colonizers and went to other islands. Rogers returned to the US in 1845, but Pratt and Grouard remained. On these various islands they encountered missionaries of the London Missionary Society, who had already been preaching in the South Pacific for decades and had translated the Bible into Tahitian. This article explores how the two groups of missionaries interacted, as recorded in their letters and diaries. While there was some antagonism between the Mormons and the Protestant missionaries, there was also some mutual generosity of spirit, as they recognized they were all engaged in the cause of Christ.