Marshall Islands celebrates Gospel Day on the first Friday of every December. Gospel Day remembers the coming of the first Christian missionaries to the islands from the US in 1857.
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Today, Marshall Islands is thoroughly Christianised, and the people are very religious, attending church and resting at home every Sunday. Most Marshallese belong to Protestant groups, especially the United Church of Christ, but there are also other groups including Catholics.
What is today the Marshall Islands was long isolated from most of the rest of the world. Spanish explorers found and claimed the islands in 1526. In 1885, Spain sold them to Germany, which wanted them for the lucrative copra trade based on the various atolls. But after World War I, Japan took control of Marshall Islands, and after World War II, they came under US rule.
When American missionaries first stepped foot on the Jailut Atoll, they found an isolated, “heathen” society. But very soon, the Congregational faith of the first missionaries transformed Marshall Islands. And other Christian denominations later established a presence. It is the coming of the Gospel that the people of Marshall Islands see as the turning point in their long history.
On Gospel Day, people attend church and learn again about the first Marshall Islands’ missionaries. Then they spend the rest of the day feasting and fellowshipping with family at home.