News Release

Government and Church Leaders Discuss Strengthening Families and Society in French Polynesia

As country recovers from COVID-19, leaders look to the future with gratitude, faith and unity

When Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visited French Polynesia on 24 May 2019, he met with Mr. Edouard Fritch, president of French Polynesia. During their meeting, President Nelson said the Church wanted to be part of the solution for the country, not the problem.

After the meeting, President Fritch accompanied President Nelson to a stadium where a cultural celebration preceded a devotional attended by over 10,000 people.

One year later, on Friday 12 June, Mr. Fritch invited a delegation from the Church, led by President Henri Estall of the Arue Tahiti Stake, to a meeting to discuss the Covid-19 health crisis, the severity of the looming social crisis, and the conditions of economic recovery.

Government and Church Leaders discuss ways to strengthen French Polynesian families and society. 11 June 2020.
Government and Church Leaders discuss ways to strengthen French Polynesian families and society. 11 June 2020.Image used with permission


President Fritch was accompanied by Mrs. Isabelle Sachet, Minister of the Family and Solidarities, Mr. Tearii Alpha, Minister of the Green Economy, Mrs. Maiana Bambridge, Director of Cabinet of the Ministry of Health, and Mr. Thierry Nun Fat, Head of Cabinet at the Presidency.

President Estall was accompanied by Noelline Parker, the Church’s national communication director, Bishop Manea Tuahu, welfare and self-reliance manager, and President Temarama Varney, first counselor in the Arue stake presidency.

The group reviewed French Polynesia’s response to the pandemic so far. There have been 60 cases and no deaths.

"I believe the Lord has helped us a lot,” President Fritch told the group.

Looking ahead, President Fritch said, “We must find this fragile balance between the sanitary protection of the population and the economic and social imperatives.”

“To rebuild the country together,” he said, “we need to cultivate a constructive attitude, even if we are in a difficult situation, to keep the fighting spirit of the Polynesians alive, and to make changes in our behaviour, our lifestyles and our mentalities.”

"It will never be the same again. We need a change of mind," he said.

He asked the Church to support efforts to “initiate hope and peace in the population during this period of social crisis.”

President Estall explained how the members of the Church are participating in instilling a spirit of hope and peace.

“Our Prophet and other leaders have invited members of the Church to pray and fast several times in the past months, asking for support for doctors, healing for the sick, help for governments.”

He also shared that Latter-day Saints in French Polynesia also pray regularly for “peace in the country, wisdom for the government, and protection for homes."

Manea Tuahu talked about some of the Church’s resources and courses which help people improve their employment prospects, become healthier, and manage personal finances. He made it clear that these materials and classes are available to all French Polynesians, free of charge.

Government and Church leaders discuss ways to help French Polynesians recover from the health, social and economic challenges of COVID-19.
Government and Church leaders discuss ways to work together to help French Polynesians recover from the health, social and economic challenges of COVID-19.Image used with permission.


Mrs. Maiana Bambridge of the Ministry of Health noted that the Church’s "Eat Healthy, Be Active" program is currently used as support for some of the training programs of the Health Administration.

The President of the country told the group that he hoped that French Polynesians would celebrate, praise, and thank the Lord during the Autonomy Day celebration on 29 June in Paofai.

"We want to change the way we celebrate this holiday,” he said. “We are going to thank the Lord because He has blessed us, despite everything.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with other churches, will take part in the 29 June celebration.

With President Estall's assurance that the country could count on the Church’s support, two future meetings have been mentioned: a visit by government leaders to a Sunday worship service to meet families; and another meeting on family issues, in particular how to understand the problem of families in distress, what actions to take, and how to implement them together.

Read more at the French Polynesian President’s website.

Newsroom contributor: Noëlline Parker.

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