French Polynesia
   Catholics began the process of Christianizing the islands that are now French Polynesia in 1659, but Protestant efforts that began in the 19th century have won over the majority of the population.
   In 1797, a group of missionaries arrived in Tahiti from the recently founded London Missionary Society (LMS). The first breakthrough came in 1815, when the local ruler, King Pomare, requested baptism. At his urging, most of the Tahi-tians converted, and he oversaw the building of a large church. The development of French colonial rule in the South Pacific in the latter half of the 19th century led the LMS to withdraw from Tahiti and turn their work over to the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (sponsored by the Reformed Church of France). The resulting church, formally established in 1963 as the Église Evangelique de Polynésie Française, is the largest ecclesiastical body in French Polynesia, with close to 100,000 adherents. It is a member of the World Council of Churches.
   Second only to the Catholic Church and the French Protestant church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). LDS missionaries arrived in 1844, motivated by their belief in the unique role of Polynesians in world history. it was the first effort by Mormon missionaries in a non-English-speaking area of the world. The French authorities expelled them in 1852, but they were allowed to reopen in 1892. Together with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (recently renamed the Christian Community), which began work in 1884, the LDS claims 10,000 Mormons in the islands. The only additional churches with as many as a thousand members are the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
   Further reading:
   ■ S. G. Ellsworth and K. C. Perrin, Seasons of Faith and Courage: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in French Polynesia, A Sesquicentennial History, 1843-1993 (Sandy, Utah: Yves R. Perrin, 1994)
   ■ Daniel Mauer, Protestant Church at Tahiti (Paris: Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1970).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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