Kiribati Uniting Church

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The Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) (formerly the Kiribati Protestant Church and earlier, the Gilbert Islands Protestant Church) is a united Protestant Christian denomination in Kiribati. With approximately 40,000 members,[1] and 136 congregations,[1] the KUC is the second-largest religious group in Kiribati and accounts for approximately 36 percent of the population of the country.[2]

Protestant missionaries (e.g., Hiram Bingham) sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions first arrived in Kiribati in 1857, and missionaries from the London Missionary Society arrived in 1870. The Protestant converts were served by pastors from Hawaii, Samoa and Tuvalu until the early 20th Century, after which Tuvaluans and I-Kiribati, trained at Rongorongo, on Beru Atoll, took on this role. In 1968, the first general assembly of the Gilbert Islands Protestant Church met to organise an autonomous church. In 1979, when the Gilbert Islands was renamed Kiribati, the church changed its name to the Kiribati Protestant Church.[1] The church was originally established as a Congregationalist denomination.

In 2014, after a Church Bi-annual Assembly (Maungatabu), which was held on the island of Arorae, the Kiribati Protestant Church changed its name to Kiribati Uniting Church. The word "uniting" reflects that the church is now a union of several Protestant denominations in Kiribati, including Congregationalists, Evangelicals, Anglicans, and Presbyterians.

KUC has 209 pastors.[1] The majority of church members are fisherman or copra cutters. Membership is increasing and churches in villages are expanding.[3]

The KUC is a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Communion of Reformed Churches,[4] and the Council for World Mission.[1] The pastors for the KUC are trained at Tangintebu Theological College, which is owned by the church.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Alaima T., Mikaere B., Keina B., Meita B., Kunei E., Uentabo F., . . ., & Kumon U. (1979). Kiribati: Aspects of history. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific, Institute of Pacific Studies.
  • Garrett, J. (1992). Footsteps in the sea: Christianity in Oceania to World War II. Suva: University of the South Pacific.
  • Goodall, N. (1954). A history of the London Missionary Society 1895-1945. London: Oxford University Press.
  • Macdonald, B. K. (1982). Cinderellas of the empire: Towards a history of Kiribati and Tuvalu. Canberra: Australian National University Press.
  • Nokise, U. F. (1983). The role of London Missionary Society Samoan missionaries in the evangelisation of the South West Pacific 1839-1930 (Doctoral dissertation, Australian National University). Retrieved from
  • Porter, A. (1997). ‘Cultural imperialism’ and Protestant missionary enterprise, 1780–1914. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 25, 367-391.
  • Sabatier, E. (1977). Astride the Equator: An account of the Gilbert Islands (U. Nixon, Trans.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.


  1. ^ a b c d e World Council of Churches: Kiribati Uniting Church,, accessed 2015-10-07.
  2. ^ United States State Department, "Kiribati", International Religious Freedom Report 2007,, accessed 2008-03-04.
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links[edit]