The Laie Hawaii Temple : A History from Its Conception to Completion
Department of Religious Education, Brigham Young University
The Laie Hawaii Temple majestically overlooks the beaches of Oahu and has stood as an emblem of the Latter-day Saint faith to the world since 1919. Although the structure is iconic and highly significant to Latter-day saints, a comprehensive history of the Laie Hawaii Temple has never been published. This thesis provides such a history from the conception of the temple until its dedication. The history of this particular temple is important for several reasons. At its dedication, the temple in Laie became the fifth operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was the first dedicated temple outside of the state of Utah (following the exodus) and outside of Norther America. It was also the first temple built in one of the missions of the Church. It was a pioneering temple as one of the first that catered to a large number of patrons from different cultures speaking different languages. Its multi-cultural, multi-lingual integration is something that would not be seen in other temples for several decades. Over the years, the temple and the attractions built around it have drawn millions of other visitors as well. its location has made it an internationally recognized edifice and a valuable tool for the Church to introduce its message to the world. This history is also compelling because of what the temple in Laie, Hawaii represents in terms of the Latter-day Saint conception of the doctrine of the "gathering." As the first temple built outside of the traditional centers of Mormon colonization, this temple became an early prototype of a method of gathering that does not appear to begin taking hold Church-wide until the mid-twentieth century. Ahead of its time in other ways, the temple was built in a place where, according to the thinking of the time, Church membership was not yet sizable enough to warrant a temple. This thesis explains why the temple was built in Hawaii. These aspects of the temple's history produced ramifications that continue to impact the Church today, nearly 100 years later. As with many temples, a folk history of oral tradition has developed around the story of the Laie Hawaii Temple. This thesis will also provide a review of the historical record and offer clarity in sorting through that tradition.