Church of Tuvalu
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Church of Tuvalu

The Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu (Tuvaluan: Te Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu, EKT), commonly the Church of Tuvalu, is the state church of Tuvalu, although in practice this merely entitles it to "the privilege of performing special services on major national events".[5] Its adherents comprise about 97% of the ~11,000 inhabitants of the archipelago, and theologically it is part of the Reformed tradition.[3]

The Constitution of Tuvalu guarantees freedom of religion, including the freedom to practice, the freedom to change religion, the right not to receive religious instruction at school or to attend religious ceremonies at school, and the right not to "take an oath or make an affirmation that is contrary to [one's] religion or belief".[6]


Christianity first came to Tuvalu in 1861 when Elekana, a deacon of a Congregational church in Manihiki, Cook Islands became caught in a storm and drifted for eight weeks before landing at Nukulaelae.[7][8][9] Elekana began proselytising Christianity. He was trained at Malua Theological College, a London Missionary Society school in Samoa, before beginning his work in establishing the Church of Tuvalu. In 1865, the Rev A. W. Murray of the London Missionary Society - a Protestant congregationalist missionary society - arrived as the first European missionary where he too proselytized among the inhabitants of Tuvalu.[10][11] Murray was followed by the Rev. Samuel James Whitmee in 1870.[12]

The first pastors were: Ioane at Nukulaelae (1865-88); Kirisome at Nui (1865-99); Tema at Funafuti (1870-89); and Jeremia at Vaitupu (1880-95).[13] At the end of the 19th century, the ministers of what became the Church of Tuvalu were predominantly Samoans, who influenced the development of the Tuvaluan language and the music of Tuvalu.[8][14] In 1969, the Church acquired its independence from the LMS, since which time it has sent some missionaries to serve Tuvaluan migrants in Fiji, New Zealand, Hawaii, Australia, and the Marshall Islands.[15][16]

The former Governor-General of Tuvalu, Rev Sir Filoimea Telito, presided over the Church until his death in July 2011.[17][18] The Church currently publishes a bulletin in the Tuvaluan and English languages, and there is one church in the outskirts Auckland, New Zealand.[19]

The Reverend Kalahati Kilei, President of the Tuvalu Church and Pastor for the island community of Funafuti, died on 10 September 2019 at Princess Margaret Hospital.[20]

The most prominent building on Funafuti is the F?tu'ao Lima (Morning Star Church) of the Church of Tuvalu.


The Church is Calvinist in doctrine and congregational in organisation. There is no women's ordination. The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are generally accepted. Being the de facto state church, the Church of Tuvalu dominates most aspects of social, cultural and political life in the country.

Fetuvalu Secondary School

The Church operates Fetuvalu Secondary School, a day school which is located on Funafuti.[21][22][23]


The Church is a member of the World Association for Christian Communication, the Boys' Brigade International Fellowship,[1] the World Communion of Reformed Churches, Council for World Mission, the World Council of Churches, and the Pacific Conference of Churches. It also has ties with the Methodist Church in Fiji, the Congregational Christian Church in Samoa, the Kiribati Uniting Church, the Uniting Church in Australia, and the Methodist and Presbyterian churches in New Zealand.[4]


  1. ^ a b ":- Global Fellowship of Christian Youth / ORGANISATION -:". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "World Communion of Reformed Churches". Archived from the original on 2016-08-24. Retrieved .
  3. ^ a b "Address data base of Reformed churches and institutions".
  4. ^ a b "Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu".
  5. ^ "2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Tuvalu", United States Department of State
  6. ^ Constitution of Tuvalu, article 23.
  7. ^ Goldsmith, M. and Munro, D. (1992). "Encountering Elekana Encountering Tuvalu". Rubinstein, D.H. Ed. Pacific History: Papers from the 8th Pacific History Association Conference: 25-41.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ a b Laumua Kofe, Palagi and Pastors, Tuvalu: A History, Ch. 15, U.S.P. & Tuvalu (1983)
  9. ^ Goldsmith, Michael (2008). "Chapter 8, Telling Lives in Tuvalu". Telling Pacific Lives: Prisms of Process. London: ANU E Press. ISBN 9781921313820.
  10. ^ Murray, A.W. (1865). "Missionary Voyage to the Lagoon Islands". Missionary Magazine. December: 335-45.
  11. ^ Goldsmith, M. and Munro, D. (1992). "Conversion and Church Formation in Tuvalu". Journal of Pacific History. 27 (1): 44-54. doi:10.1080/00223349208572690.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Whitmee, Rev. Samuel James (1871). A missionary cruise in the South Pacific: being the report of a voyage amongst the Tokelau, Ellice and Gilbert Islands, in the missionary barque "John Williams" during 1870. Sydney: Joseph Cook & Co.
  13. ^ Munro, Doug (1978). Kirisome and Tema: Samoan Pastors in the Ellice Islands. Canberra: Deryck Scarr (ed.), More Pacific Islands Portraits.
  14. ^ Munro, D. (1996). "D. Munro & A. Thornley (eds.) The Covenant Makers: Islander Missionaries in the Pacific". Samoan Pastors in Tuvalu, 1865-1899. Suva, Fiji, Pacific Theological College and the University of the South Pacific. pp. 124-157.
  15. ^ "Te Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu". Retrieved 2013.
  16. ^ "The Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu". Archived from the original on 2017-06-21. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "The Rev. Filoimea Telito passed away" Archived 2011-10-01 at the Wayback Machine, Tuvalu News, 22 July 2011
  18. ^ "State Funeral of the late former Governor General of Tuvalu, Reverend Sir Filoimea Telito, GCMG, MBE" (PDF). Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau Newsletter (TPB: 01/2011). 25 July 2011. Retrieved 2012.
  19. ^ Morris, Rachel, "To the Lifeboats," in Mother Jones, November/December 2009
  20. ^ "Reverend Kalahati Kilei". 10 September 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  21. ^ "Fetuvalu High School (Funafuti)". Retrieved 2012.
  22. ^ Semi, Diana (23 November 2006). "Fetuvalu High School ends the year with a prize giving day". Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  23. ^ Holowaty Krales, Amelia (10 March 2011). "TB Workshop at Fetu Valu Secondary School". Retrieved 2012.

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