Te Ekalesia Kelesiano Tuvalu
Separated fromLondon Missionary Society, Christian Congregational Church of Samoa

The Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu (Tuvaluan: Te Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu, EKT), commonly the Church of Tuvalu, is a Christian church which is the state church of Tuvalu, although this status merely entitles it to "the privilege of performing special services on major national events";[5] its adherents comprise about 86% of the 11,600 inhabitants of the archipelago.

Theologically, it is part of the Calvinist tradition.[3]

Section 23 of the Constitution of Tuvalu guarantees freedom of belief, including the freedom of thought, religion and belief, the freedom to change religion or belief, 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 beliefs".[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 Reverend Archibald Wright Murray of the London Missionary Society (LMS) – 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 Reverend Samuel James Whitmee in 1870.[12]

The first pastors were: Ioane at Nukulaelae and Nanumanga (1865–88);[13][14] Kirisome at Nui (1865–99); Tapumanaia Kitiona at Niutao (1865);[15] Tema at Funafuti (1870–89); Jeremia at Vaitupu (1880–95);[13] In 1896 the pastor on Funafuti was Simona.[16] The ministers of what became the Church of Tuvalu were predominantly Samoans who graduated from Malua Theological College,[13][17] and who influenced the development of the Tuvaluan language and the music of Tuvalu.[8][18]

The LMS Church in the Ellice Islands remained part of the Samoan LMS Church’s congregational system until 1958, and was administered (together with Tokelau and the Gilbert Islands, under the title, the Northwest Outstations of the Samoan Mission.[17] In 1958, the LMS Church in the Ellice Islands became self-governing.[17] Ellice Islander ministers were trained at Mälua, the LMS College in Western Samoa.[17] The Samoan language Bible was used until 1978 when a Tuvaluan-language New Testament was published.[17]

In 1969, the ETK 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.[19][20]

Fetu Ao Lima (Morning Star Church), Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu

The former Governor-General of Tuvalu, Rev Sir Filoimea Telito, presided over the Church until his death in July 2011.[21][22]

The Reverend Kalahati Kilei, President of the ETK and Pastor for the island community of Funafuti, died on 10 September 2019 at Princess Margaret Hospital.[23]

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

The Church currently publishes a bulletin in the Tuvaluan and English languages.


As the church is an offshoot of the London Missionary Society, it is Calvinist in doctrine and congregational in organisation.[3][4] There is an ordination for women which occurred on July 16, 2022, with the first two women, Rev Oliula Kalahati and Rev. Sulufaiga Uota (EKT Head Office, 2022). 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.[24][25][26]


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]


Tuvaluan Christian Church in Henderson, West Auckland, New Zealand

During the early years of the 21st century, urbanization and environmental issues have led to many citizens leaving Tuvalu to start new lives in other countries.[27][28] Many people have taken their beliefs with them and there are now EKT churches in New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Marshall Island, and Fiji.[29]

The Tuvalu Community Church congregation of Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand,[30] was established in 1992.[31] In 2021 the congregation opened a new church, which was designed by South Pacific Architecture, which won a Public Architecture Award at the 2021 Auckland Architecture Awards.[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b ":Global Fellowship of Christian Youth website / Organisation-:". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  2. ^ "World Communion of Reformed Churches". Archived from the original on 2016-08-24. Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  3. ^ a b c "Reformiert Online website, Address data base of Reformed churches and institutions".
  4. ^ a b c "World Council of Churches website, Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu".
  5. ^ US State Dept 2022 report
  6. ^ "Constitution of Tuvalu" (PDF). Government of Tuvalu. 1 October 2023. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  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.((cite journal)): 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.((cite journal)): 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. ^ a b c Munro, Doug (1978). Kirisome and Tema: Samoan Pastors in the Ellice Islands. Canberra: Deryck Scarr (ed.), More Pacific Islands Portraits.
  14. ^ Doug Munro, The Lives and Times of Resident Traders in Tuvalu: An Exercise in History from Below, (1987) 10(2) Pacific Studies 73
  15. ^ "Tapumanaia & Lasela - Their Life Of Service To The People, Church and Island Community". 24 August 2010.
  16. ^ Prof. W. J. Sollas (11 February 1897). "The Legendary History of Funafuti" (PDF). Nature. 55: 353–355.
  17. ^ a b c d e Goldsmith, Michael (2012). "The Colonial and Postcolonial Roots of Ethnonationalism in Tuvalu". Journal of the Polynesian Society. 121 (2): 129–150. doi:10.15286/jps.121.2.129-150.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Te Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu". Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  20. ^ "The Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu". Archived from the original on 2017-06-21. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  21. ^ "The Rev. Filoimea Telito passed away" Archived 2011-10-01 at the Wayback Machine, Tuvalu News, 22 July 2011
  22. ^ "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 20 November 2012.
  23. ^ "Reverend Kalahati Kilei". Facebook. 10 September 2019. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  24. ^ "Fetuvalu High School (Funafuti)". Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  25. ^ 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 20 November 2012.
  26. ^ Holowaty Krales, Amelia (10 March 2011). "TB Workshop at Fetu Valu Secondary School". Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  27. ^ United Nations, 2022 Migration Report
  28. ^ https://www.oikoumene.org/news/first-minister-of-scotland-meets-wcc-delegation-at-cop23 World Council Of Churches website, article dated November 16, 2017
  29. ^ Council For World Missions website
  30. ^ Morris, Rachel (2009). "What Happens When Your Country Drowns?". Mother Jones (November/December 2009 edition). Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  31. ^ a b "Stunning Tuvalu Christian Church wins Public Architecture Award". Tagata Pasifika. 28 May 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2021.