News Release


How are things going?

The Okinawa Temple presidency gather for the Okinawa Temple dedication.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

On November 12, 2023, the Okinawa Japan Temple was dedicated by Elder Gary E. Stevenson. Four days later, on Thursday, November 16th, the temple opened for service. How have things been during these first few months, and how are the members of the Church reacting to a temple on their island?

Here are a few insights from local Church leaders and members in Okinawa.

“What a wonderful blessing it is to have a temple on the island of Okinawa!” remarked President Hiroshi and Sister Takako Kinjo, temple president and matron. “Patrons ranging in age from 11 to 101 have been continuously visiting the temple and receiving ordinances since the day the temple opened. The ordinance rooms are always filled and we see the Lord’s countenance reflected in the faces of the patrons and workers. They radiate light, and we actually observe their level of light increasing through temple service.”

© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“So many people have volunteered to serve as temple workers,” shared President Mark Francis of the Okinawa Military District. “In fact, attending the temple here in Okinawa is always like a big family reunion. American and Japanese patrons and workers greet each other with joy and love. We have always tried to be unified with the Japanese Saints in the Okinawa Stake, but the temple open house and dedication brought us together more powerfully and tightly than we ever imagined. Working together in the temple has provided a glimpse of eternity, and we all feel like very close family now.”

“I love attending the temple and seeing other members of our Open House Communications Committee there,” said Sister Kirsten McFarlane of the Kadena Military Branch. “We always greet each other with a hug! Our temple is here!”

One sister expressed, “I always knew that the Okinawa Temple was for Saints on this island, but I didn’t imagine how much the temple would also bless people from around the world. Every time I serve in the temple I am amazed at where the patrons are from: South Korea, Mongolia, Australia, Guam, the United States, mainland Japan, the Philippines, and other areas. The temple has literally drawn people to our tiny island.”

“We’ve had many patrons from all over Japan, and from all over the world,” shared President and Sister Kinjo. “One common comment we receive is that they feel incredible warmth and welcoming from the Okinawa Temple workers. The workers smile and treat patrons as the Savior would. Our wonderful shift coordinators regularly discuss how to most effectively help ordinance workers serve patrons. The Okinawa Temple is truly changing the lives of its people.”

Temple ordinances are often administered in a mixture of Japanese and English, depending on the language abilities of the ordinance workers.

One sister shared, “While observing the sealing ordinances of several Japanese patrons, I could not understand the words being spoken, but I could occasionally hear the name of the patron and of the ancestor for whom the work was performed. It occurred to me that the names were the same, so the ancestor was a direct relative of the patron. I could see tears streaming down the face of the patron and feel the powerful Spirit in the room as I realized he was indeed performing ordinances for his own ancestors who must have waited generations for this day. Language barriers are not barriers to the Spirit.”

Sister Terumi Tuckett noted, “The Okinawa Temple is not just blessing Church members on the island, but others are also feeling its power.” Sister Tuckett’s friend, who is not a member of the Church, attended the temple open house and gained an interest in family history. Sister Tuckett and Sister Michiko Shepherd helped the friend search for her ancestors. When the information was clarified, the friend agreed to have her ancestor’s temple work performed by Sister Tuckett and Sister Shepherd.  “She was so thrilled to find out the information about them and was willing to let them have their temple ordinances completed.”

President Kinjo observed, “It has been obvious to us that the ancestors on the other side of the veil also rejoice and often visit the temple and observe their own ordinances.”

The Okinawa Temple is currently open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. However, on Wednesday, April 17th, two special temple sessions were held to commemorate the arrival of full-time missionaries in Okinawa, 68 years earlier on April 17, 1956.

President Shigejiro Akamatsu, 1st counselor in the temple presidency noted that, “When the two elders arrived, they were met at Tomari Port in Naha by many members of the military community, who had already been organized in branches and holding regular church meetings for over 10 years. Elder Sam Shimabukuro and Elder Leroy Anderson worked to spread the gospel to local Japanese Saints, and just nine months later Sister Haruko Asato was baptized. Sister Asato’s family eventually joined the church, including Sister Kinjo, current temple matron, and President Yoshitaka Asato, current 2nd counselor in the temple presidency.”

President Hajime Miyara of the Okinawa Stake shared, “The blessings of the temple are priceless. The Okinawa Saints are experiencing more spiritual growth and joy than ever before. We feel the joy of our ancestors, and our own family bonds here on earth are strengthened as well. The Okinawa Temple has reminded us again that temple ordinances are essential to the eternal plan of happiness.”

President Kinjo concluded, “We express our deep gratitude to the plan of happiness, the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the influence of the Holy Ghost for enabling us to enjoy and rejoice in such priceless blessings of the restored gospel and the temple in Okinawa.”

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.