Gospel Day in (Kosrae) in Micronesia
Gospel Day is a holiday observed annually on the 21st of August in Kosrae, Micronesia. This holiday was created to commemorate the introduction of Christianity to the island and is now an official public holiday in Kosrae. However, it is not a holiday observed in the other Micronesian states.
Christianity has been on the island since the mid-19th century and has played an important part in the area’s government. Since this is an official public holiday, most non-essential government offices are closed on this day, as are businesses and schools. It is also a day off for the general population.
The History of Gospel Day in Kosrae, Micronesia
Located in Oceania, the Federated States of Micronesia is predominantly Christian, but there is an unusually high population of Protestants in Kosrae. In fact, approximately 95% of the island is Protestant, which is quite stunning when compared to the state of Pohnpei, which is about half Protestant and half Catholic. That is because, in Kosrae, Protestantism was introduced by American Congregational missionaries.
Protestant missionaries first came to Kosrae in 1852. They arrived at a time when the population of the island was in decline due to a deadly epidemic sweeping the island. The population had decreased from 3,000 people to a little more than 300. This sudden loss of inhabitants caused many of the island’s political and social institutions to collapse.
A new government was set up by the Protestant missionaries that helped prevent society on the island from fully collapsing. A Protestant pastor named Benjamin Snow then set up town hall meetings for the islanders. The paramount chief of Kosrae was forced to show support to Pastor Snow in 1869, and Snow formed a council of seven elected representatives. Although this council was supposed to tend to the affairs of the island, it was actually the church that held the final say on all matters.
In 1874, the council deposed the chief and installed a new Christian chief who was elected by the populace. Islanders were then converted to Christianity, and the church became the de facto center of social and political life in Kosrae.
Observing Gospel Day in Kosrae, Micronesia
This holiday is a day off for the general population, and a day when many businesses, schools, and government offices are closed. It is also a day marked by church services and church-sponsored activities.