Hawaii, 50 years since the Church set foot in the West

Since it first sprouted on the shores of Oahu (through that unforgettable inaugural worship service officiated by Brother Eraño G. Manalo in a small house at 1782 Bond Street in Ewa, Honolulu), God’s planting in the Aloha State has shown no signs of shriveling, only graceful burgeoning. What started out as a small congregation in Honolulu in 1968 has ripened into a full-grown ecclesiastical district that has since produced another ecclesiastical district—Marianas Islands.

It’s interesting to note that Oahu, in Hawaiian tongue, means “gathering place.” This island is where the first congregation of the Church Of Christ in Hawaii State and also the first congregation outside the Philippine shore was established. Then began the gathering of the Church members from the Far West to the rest of Western hemisphere and other parts of the world.

First two decades

From Oahu, it didn’t take long for the Church to extend across the islands of Kauai, with the birth of what is now known as the Kalaheo Congregation, and Maui, wherein sprang the congregation named Wailuku. Then arose the Congregation of Keaau, whose establishment marked the Church’s entry to the volcanic Hawaii Grande or the Big Island. This was followed by the blossoming of the congregations of Maili (also in Oahu) and Naalehu (Big Island). Thus, on the first decade alone since the historic signing of the scroll (the declaration of the Church’s setting foot in the Far West), the mission had already spread to four major islands of America’s 50th state.

In the following years, the Church set foot on the “Pineapple Island”—Lanai— where an extension was opened and named after the island itself. This, plus two more congregations in Oahu (Wahiawa, established in October 1978, and Waipahu, January 1980) and one each in the Big Island (Kailua Kona Extension, September 1983) and in Maui (Lahaina, February 1986), mounted up to 11 the total number of congregations and extensions that emerged in the state within that period. On the first score of the Church’s mission in Hawaii, worship services were already being held in five of the state’s eight major islands.

The second score

The succeeding decade opened with the handing down of the Church Administration’s decision to consolidate all the congregations in Hawaii together with those in Guam, Northern Mariana Islands Micronesia, and American Samoa into one ecclesiastical district. Thus, by the time the Church marked its diamond anniversary in the Philippines in 1989, the Hawaii-Pacific District Office was already functioning. Among its initial roster of congregations, extensions, and group worship services outside the Hawaiian State were those of Harmon and Apra Heights (Guam); Saipan, Tinian, and Rota (Northern Mariana Islands); Yap (Micronesia); Ebeye and Majuro (Marshall Islands); and Pago-Pago (American Samoa).

Back in Hawaii, four more congregations soon joined the district’s line-up on the years that followed. These were the congregations of Kaneohe (March 1993) and New Era (July 1995) in Oahu; Lihue (February 1994) in Kauai; and Honokaa (June 1997) in the Big Island. This development came in time for the dawning of another milestone that highlighted the Church’s 30th year of global expansion—the restoration of the old house along Bond street in Ewa, where it all began, and its inauguration as a museum on July 23, 1998 led by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo who was then the Deputy Executive Minister.

Moving on toward the fourth decade, the district carried on to fortify the spiritual foundation of its existing congregations’ growing membership. More young men were sent to the Philippines to join the ministry just as the ones who went in earlier had finished their studies and had been sent back to the district, if not to other parts of the world, as ministers and evangelical workers. Earnest strides to edify the faith of the believers had been constantly undertaken by the district.

Indeed, Hawaii will forever be etched in the history of the Church as the place where the spark of its westward and global expansion was ignited. But, there’s definitely more to it than that. For, the expansion of God’s ends-of-the-earth mission has never stopped in Hawaii; it has only been perpetuated in this land, whose “life,” according to the state’s motto, is “perpetuated in righteousness” (Ua mau ke ea o ka ȃina i ka pono).

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