Since its dedication in 1919, the Laie Hawaii Temple has stood as a spiritual symbol in the Pacific and to the students and community members of Laie. At the time of its construction, the church had no temples outside of the continental United States. President Joseph F. Smith saw the need for a temple in Polynesia and saw Laie as the perfect place to further church progression in the Pacific.
When the Prophet Joseph F. Smith came to Hawaii in the spring of 1915 for business, he had a strong impression to dedicate the land that was then the church-owned Laie Plantation as a site for a temple. Laie is known as “the Gathering Place,” and the land was prepared for a special purpose. According to planning.byuh.edu, Joseph F. Smith said of Laie in 1885, “Do not leave this land, for it is the land chosen by God as a gathering place for the saints in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Hawaiian Islands as well as in the islands of the sea.”
President Smith spoke directly to the community of Laie, and said, “Do not complain because of the trials which have come upon you… Be patient, for the day will come when this desolate land will become a land of beauty. And here will the spirit of the Lord brood over his saints who love and keep His laws and commandments.” President Smith encouraged members to prepare for the changing times ahead. “Therefore do not go backward. Work with patience, persevere, stand firm and keep the commandments… and you shall receive blessings of the spirit, and of the body which will compensate you for the present trials and those that have passed.”
From start to finish, the temple construction was full of miracles. According to ldschurchtemples.com, “Construction of the Laie Hawaii Temple came to a standstill when the supply of lumber ran out. Prayers were uttered, and two days later, a freighter was discovered stranded on a nearby coral reef. The captain offered his entire cargo to the saints if they would unload it for him. His cargo? Lumber—enough to complete the temple.” This small miracle allowed for the temple to be completed, which was dedicated on November 27, 1919 by Prophet Heber J. Grant. It was the 5th operating temple in church history. The temple stands adjacent to BYUH campus and has served the students and LDS community members of Laie since its dedication. The Laie Hawaii Temple has undergone two major renovations, one in 1978 and the other in 2010. The temple was rededicated both times.
After the Laie Hawaii Temple was dedicated, the First Presidency said in a statement, “The Latter-day Saint population in Hawaii and the Pacific was not large in 1915, but the Lord had his eye upon this special part of the vineyard. A gathering place had been established.” The community was praised for their faith and sacrifices by President Grant, who said, “Local members were deeply involved in the leadership of the Church and the Church had advanced as far as it could go... Add to this the special love President Joseph F. Smith held in his heart for the Hawaiians and their cousins of Polynesia and it is easy to understand why the Lord saw fit to bestow such a remarkable blessing in this little place.”