Tucked away in eastern Canada is the maritime province of Prince Edward Island (PEI). This fair isle, home to more than 150,000 residents, is Canada’s smallest province. PEI is often known for a certain red-headed girl named Anne—spelled with an e—who famously said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” (Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables ). The island enjoys beautiful, sandy beaches, warm ocean waters, fresh seafood, and a vibrant culture with world-class amenities, artisans, fine dining, and fresh air. It is also home to three small congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—two branches and one ward.
Called to Serve the Lord
Recently, the little ward situated in the province’s capital of Charlottetown has put forth their take on a world-class missionary effort. In November, long-time members Jamie and Madeline Rea began serving as temple workers in the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple.
Their departure brings the total number of ward members currently serving missions to eleven. There are five young adults who are currently serving full-time missions: Jammy Lee Acéac in Vancouver, British Columbia; Stephanie Veitch in Cebu, Philippines; Dylan Lawlor in Riverside, California; Noah Biggley in Logan, Utah; and Caleb MacKay in Anchorage, Alaska.
In addition, a second senior couple—Linda and Rick Watson—recently left for a temple service mission in Saskatchewan. A third senior couple—Thomas and Valerie Drennan—is serving a three-year assignment in the presidency of the Halifax, Nova Scotia temple.
Historical Milestones of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ
The earliest Latter-day Saint congregations were formed on Prince Edward Island in the 1830s. Joseph Smith embarked on a mission to Canada on October 5, 1833, and during his travels received the following revelation: “Behold and lo, I have much people in this place, in the regions round about, and an effectual door shall be opened in the regions round about in this eastern land” (Doctrine and Covenants 100:3). Later, those early saints heeded the call from President Brigham Young to be organized into “companies” and “let them go with their might, to prepare for those who are to tarry” (Doctrine and Covenants 136:6). They moved west to settle in Utah regions. Congregations in PEI were not reestablished until the late 1960s.
PEI Latter-day Saints Are Strengthened
The Charlottetown Ward has an active membership of approximately 100 members, with a total ward membership of about 200. Youth from the ward and other two branches must travel to Fredericton, New Brunswick—more than 3.5 hours away—to join other youth of the Stake. As a result, they form close friendships to provide support to each other. Often they find themselves as the only members of the Church in their schools or communities. But they know and understand those who are “faithful shall be made strong in every place; and I the Lord will go with you” (Doctrine and Covenants 66:8)
It was not until 1999 that President Gordon B Hinckley dedicated the Halifax Nova Scotia Temple.
Prior to that dedication, many youth and their families travelled at least annually to temples located either in Toronto, Ontario or Washington, D.C., both a two-day drive. And until a stake was formed in 1988, members would travel to nearby Maine for patriarchal blessings. When the first island members embarked on missionary service in the 1980s, the saints rejoiced to be able to send their sons and daughters—and their love of the gospel—throughout the world. Through the years, many more entered the mission field. Never, however, have there been so many missionaries from PEI serving at the same time.
Each of the currently serving missionaries—young and not so young—represents the rich heritage that members of the Church enjoy in this area of the vineyard. They have roots that run deep in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have spiritual strength, earning the blessings of experience gained from growing and serving in small congregations where everyone works together. They look forward in faith to building the kingdom of Zion, both on Prince Edward Island and throughout the world.
During the April 2013 General Conference, Elder D Todd Christofferson spoke of his love of missionary work: “The work of our missionaries is a magnificent expression of the Lord’s redeeming love. As His authorized messengers, they offer the incomparable blessings of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, opening the way to spiritual rebirth and redemption.” (“Redemption,” Ensign, May 2013).