The 'Diadem' would have looked similar to this barque from the 1840s

One hundred and seventy five years ago, a 17-year-old named William Barratt arrived at the new port of Adelaide on the barque, Diadem, ready to make a new life in the young colony.

An unremarkable event amid hundreds of similar immigrant arrivals except for one fact – William Barratt was the first ever Latter-day Saint missionary to our shores.

A convert from Burslem, Staffordshire, in England, Elder Barratt was ordained to be a missionary elder by the Apostle George A. Smith, who seized the opportunity to send the gospel to this land when he learnt that William and his parents and family were bound for South Australia.

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(Above: The Apostle George A. Smith who called William Barratt to be a missionary) 

And so, on 16 November 1840, just ten years after the church was organised and four years after Adelaide was established, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ history in Australia began.

From that humble beginning, we can now celebrate a Pacific-wide church membership of 500,000 and a legacy of building up faith, families and communities that would probably astonish Elder Barratt if he saw us today.

On Saturday 8 August 2015, the church in Adelaide is holding 175th Anniversary Cultural Celebrations to fête the milestone and highlight the blessings of living in this great State of South Australia.

The diversity of background among our LDS membership today reflects the broader Adelaide community and beyond, and we look forward to sharing our event with some of the city’s dignitaries and the wider public – and with you and your friends and family!

Think about it – it began here: not on Australia’s east coast, and not in New Zealand where the faith soon caught fire, but right here in South Australia.

Barratt achieved one known convert, Robert Beauchamp (pronounced ‘Beech-am’), who sought baptism by immersion but stalled confirmation for ten years. Beauchamp went on to become the Australasian Mission President who oversaw the earliest expansion and progress of the Church in this part of the world.

From little things big things grow and from a small realisation that 2015 marked 175 years since the first Mormon arrived in Adelaide, grew the idea to hold an Adelaide-wide celebratory event.

If you are part of a cultural performing group that you think would add something special to this day, please get in touch with us via this website.  Or maybe you would like to do a display on your family’s country of origin?

Tied in with the celebrations is a special opportunity to help some vulnerable children in our South Australian community.  We will be donating backpacks filled with both essential and comfort items for children aged from newborn to teenage who are taken from their homes in emergency situations.  We are aiming for 175 filled backpacks in support of the charity organisation ‘Backpacks4kidsSA‘  and we would love your help in reaching that tally.   Please contact Caroline McIlwaine on 8369 1838 or 0405 154608 for more information.

Let’s add another page to our church history by making the anniversary meaningful and memorable!