The king of Tonga dedicated the Tongan United Methodist Church Saturday. The church was built after an arson fire destroyed the original structure in 2000.
Cultural activities followed the dedication of the new church at about 1500 W. 2950 South. Church members raised money and purchased 7 acres for the new facility.
Tevita Kolokihakaufisi, consul general of Tonga, said the king makes an annual visit to the consulate in California, but it's rare for him to visit other states.
"His majesty was invited by the (Tongan) United Methodist Church of Salt Lake City," he said. "The Tongan king is also a Methodist."
Taufa'ahau Tupou IV (born 1918) has been the king of Tonga since his mother, Salote Tupou III, died in 1965.
On Friday, the king met with Gov. Olene Walker, officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and other state notables.
Walker said this is the second time the Tongan king has visited Utah, where more than 6,000 people of Tongan descent reside.
"I expressed how honored we are," Walker said. "We talked about the fact that we have the largest Tongan per capita population in Utah of any state."