News Release

Church and Community Celebrate 175th Anniversary of Arrival of First Mormon Missionary to Australia 

Vice-Regal, governmental and faith leaders mark milestone during cultural celebration

“The South Australian tradition of religious freedom has, right from the start, been successful,” His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AO, Governor of South Australia, told guests at an event last Saturday (8 August) to mark the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the first Mormon missionary to Australia. 

Over 500 guests attended the cultural event at the Church’s Firle meetinghouse in Adelaide.

In his remarks, Governor Van Le spoke of South Australia’s unique heritage that had allowed religious and cultural diversity to flourish.

He commended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for bringing together people of various backgrounds and faiths to mark 175 years since the 1840 arrival of the faith’s first missionary to come to Australia, William James Barratt.

“It is wonderful to see you celebrating the 175th anniversary in a multi-cultural way,” he said.

Hon Michael Atkinson MP, representing the premier of South Australia, Hon Jay Weatherill, also spoke at the celebration, commending Church members for the good they do in the community.

“When William Barratt, a migrant from England, arrived on our shores, little did he know how far the Church would grow in South Australia, making us better and stronger,” Mr Atkinson said.

“I congratulate everyone who organised this event. Occasions such as this bring about unity and connection.”

Other dignitaries at the event included: Mrs Lan Le, wife of Governor Hieu Van Le AO; State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall; South Australia Legislative Council Member, Jing Lee, and her husband Eddie Liew; Senator Bob Day; Federal Member for Makin, Tony Zappia; Ms Michelle Dieu of the South Australia Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Council; Mayor Kevin Knight (Tea Tree Gully); and Councillor Carol Martin of the City of Port Adelaide-Enfield Council. 

Also in attendance were members of the Multi-Faith Association of South Australia and the Muslim Women’s Association of South Australia.

The event began with a traditional “Welcome to Country” by senior Kaurna custodian of ceremony, Karl Winda Telfer. 

According to one attendee, “The afternoon celebrated the blessing and privilege of living in South Australia, presenting a glimpse into the diverse backgrounds of its residents.”

A children and youth choir sang for guests, and other musical and dance performances highlighted cultures of such nations as Italy, India and Samoa.

Participants and performers were presented with gifts by Australian Latter-day Saint leader, Elder Andrew O’Riordan. South Australian Latter-day Saint leaders in attendance included Rainer Korte, David Sandelin-McCann and Jason Ellis.

President of Latter-day Saint congregations in Firle and surrounding suburbs, Rainer Korte, conducted the program.

On the day of the cultural celebration Latter-day Saint volunteers assembled 200 back-packs — with personal items — for displaced South Australian children living with carers or in shelters. The back-packs will be delivered to a local charity this week for distribution to children in need.

William James Barratt, a Latter-day Saint convert from Staffordshire England, was 17 when he was ordained in England to be a missionary in South Australia 175 years ago. He was the first Latter-day Saint missionary in the entire South Pacific region.

Today there are over 140,000 Latter-day Saints in Australia and over half a million Church members in the South Pacific.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.