News Release

Area Presidency Expresses Condolences to People of Papua New Guinea

Sir Michael Somare, the first leader of newly independent country in 1975, passed away on 26 February

The Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this week expressed their condolences to the people of Papua New Guinea and to the family of former Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare who passed away last month.


Sir Michael became the first Prime Minister of newly independent Papua New Guinea in 1975. He served three different terms ending with his retirement in 2017.

In a letter to the current Prime Minister James Marape, the Area Presidency said,

“On behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we express our love and condolences to Sir Michael Somare's family and all Papua New Guineans following the passing of Papua New Guinea's "Father of the Nation." As the independent nation's first prime minister, Sir Michael opened the door to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1970's.

“We are grateful that he and succeeding prime ministers have maintained laws enabling the religious freedom of all Papua New Guineans to choose to believe and to worship according to their consciences. We are grateful for Sir Michael's service to the people of Papua New Guinea over many years, particularly in the areas of education, health and humanitarian efforts.

“We pray that the Somare family and others close to Sir Michael will be comforted at this time of mourning.”

The letter was signed by Elder Ian S. Adern, President; Elder K. Brent Nattress, First Counselor; and Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, Second Counselor.

Sir Michael attended the dedication of the new chapel of the Church in Gerehu in Port Morseby in 2002 and was hosted by many members and missionaries including Mission President Siosaia Mateaki, who later returned for second mission in 2016.

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