History on Guam
The first Guam members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, belonged to a military servicemen’s group that began meeting in 1950. Both military and civilian members began meeting in 1951 in a building rented in Harmon.
In 1957 land was purchased in Anigua to build a chapel. An old Navy chapel, consisting of two Quonset huts, was made available to the Mormons by a contractor that was removing it from Naval Station. The foundation and slab were prepared and the buildings were moved there later that year. The first meeting held in the first Mormon Chapel was on February 9, 1958.
By March 1969 the members raised their share of the funds needed to purchase land and build a chapel in Barrigada. J&G Construction Co. won the bid to erect the building. In March 1970, the building was completed and dedicated. In 1974, a new wing with seven rooms and restrooms, a stage, and a Boy Scout room were added. One exterior and one interior upgrade has been done to the building since around 2001.
The religion’s founder is Joseph Smith, Jr. whom followers believe is a prophet of God. According to Mormon history, in 1820 when Smith was a 17-year-old living in Vermont, he was visited by a heavenly messenger called Moroni who revealed a set of gold-colored metal plates fastened together as a book. On the plates were inscribed an ancient language, which Smith translated and became known as the Book of Mormon. The book is believed to be a record of God’s dealings with the ancient peoples of the Western hemisphere; America, which Mormons believe is the “Land of Zion” or the “New Jerusalem.”
Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ for salvation. They abstain from vices such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine and believe that divine revelation is the basis for their religious practices. Their missionaries are called Elders and receive what is called the “Melchizedek Priesthood,” which is one of two types of priesthood. The other is known as “Aaronic Priesthood” for deacons, teachers, priests, and bishops.
By 1976 membership on Guam had grown so much that a second unit (which corresponds to the concept of a small parish) was established making Guam First and Second Wards. A ward is a geographic area and comprised of about 200 active church members who are in physically proximity of a meeting house. In 1978 two more units were formed, one in Merizo and one in Agat. A couple of years later, the Micronesia Guam Mission was created. It included Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, and Christmas Island. At that time there were only four units of the church in the mission and all were on Guam with about 700 members. There was one family of five on Saipan and a couple in Palau. The only church building was on Guam.
Today the geographic area that the Micronesia Guam Mission comprises has been divided among three missions with sixty-three units and more than 20,000 members. There are about 1,200 members on Guam and more than 500 on Saipan.
In February 1985, the Talisay building in Santa Rita was dedicated, and in 1988, a building was dedicated in Yigo.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has no paid ministry. Leaders serve without compensation and missionaries serve at their own expense. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the largest collection of genealogical information in the world and it is available to the public locally.
For further reading
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (accessed August 9, 2010).
New Advent: The Catholic Encyclopedia “Mormons.” (accessed August 9, 2010).