December 28, 2010

On the way to…

I love architecture, history, and travel. Maybe no other building personifies such, than that of religious structures—in Western culture represented by churches.

Glory by the Wayside: The Old Churches of Hawai’i”, by William and Susan Ecenbarger was my inspiration to this ‘off the beaten tracks’ exploration.

(The usual suspects are here: Kawaiha’o Church in Honolulu, St. Benedict’s “The Painted Church” in Honaunau on the Big Island, St. Philomena in Kalaupapa; in addition to thirty-four other old churches spread out among six of the islands. One thing I liked about the selection is that most of the choices came from islands outside of O’ahu. This provides incentive for both tourists and the majority of the population in Hawai’i (located on O’ahu if you were not sure) to explore something different when they go to Maui, Moloka’i, or the Big Island. The book features offbeat sights, and explains the history in brief informing chapters.)

Sustained by faith, they came from east and west, some from halfway around the planet. When they arrived, Hawai’i's immigrant cultures built houses of faith-churches and temples.  These island structures are not tourist attractions, but they tell Hawai’i’s collective story more eloquently than any guidebook. 

I started out renting a Jeep to drive the inland road to Hana.  Cheeky woman!  For me, this is more interesting and diverse than the windward road and definitely less travelled.  

The road goes through the Ulupalakua Ranch. 

The rental contract warns that you will drive at your own risk, no roadside assistance provided, etc. etc. etc.  I met a fellow traveler at the rental place with the same plan and we decided to spend some time together.  She was from Germany and beside a whole bunch of diverse topics; it was interesting to converse in German. 

point taken

 bunches of rainbows, always

Hui Aloha Church, in Kaupo, must be the loveliest site for a church anywhere.  Built in 1859 as an outpost for traveling clergymen the church has been carefully restored and is a favorite site for weddings.

Also in Kaupo stands an old Catholic church called St. Joseph, on a sea-thrusting point, the two-tiered stone structure from 1862 is remarkable for the isolation of its location, like an ark that sank to land. 


St. Joseph used to serve a large Hawaiian population.  The walls of the old church stand near the new building. 

The lawn is a great place to view the Kaupo Gap.  The lava from Haleakala flowed through the church grounds.

One of the saddest sites-

This abandoned church is on Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company land in central Maui between Kahului and Kihei.

It was Maui’s first Japanese Christian church, the Pu‘unene Congregational Church played an important part in the lives of many plantation workers who lived and worked near the Pu‘unene Sugar Mill.  

Waiola Church

… is Maui’s first Christian church, established by Keopuolani herself—the sacred wife of Kamehameha I and mother of his heirs. She was considered a living goddess whose spiritual authority resulted from generations of brother-sister matings that had concentrated the sanctimony of her lineage. Months after her warrior-husband died, Keopuolani instigated the overthrow of the kapu system that had governed Hawaiian culture for more than a millennium, essentially nullifying her own high status. When the first missionaries arrived at Kailua Bay (Hawai‘i Island) several months later, she and her subjects were waiting for their instruction. In 1823 the queen brought two of these early missionaries—William Richards and Charles Stewart—to Lahaina, to this spot, and said, in effect, “Build here!”

Originally called Waine‘e, the church stood on the shore of a small lake in which dwelt a mo‘o, a water spirit, the deified form of the queen’s own ancestress. Thus, this piece of land was the queen’s pre-Christian power spot, and the decision to plant a church there must have been fraught with implications.

Keopuolani died about nine months later. In the end she entrusted her two small children, boy and girl, to the care of the missionaries, and she became the first ali‘i (royalty) to receive baptism and a Christian burial. Stewart returned to America, but Richards stayed his whole life, helped write the kingdom’s first constitution, and served as ambassador to the United States. He is buried in Waiola Cemetery along with many other important figures from these turbulent years.

The little boy and girl grew up caught in a vise of tragedy. Deep tradition would have them wed; newfangled Christianity forbade it. In time the girl, Nahi‘ena‘ena, perished after giving birth to her brother’s child, which also died. Her grief-stricken brother, Kauikeauoli (or Kamehameha III) built a mausoleum on an island in that lake, adorned it with his sister’s personal effects, and placed the coffins of his mother, sister, and child there on a four-poster bed. From this place he ruled the kingdom for many years.

As sugar production robbed Lahaina of its natural water flow, the lake silted up (it is now a waste area and ballfield) and the mo‘o withdrew. Mighty winds destroyed the church four times. The last time the congregation rebuilt, they changed the name of the church from Waine‘e (moving water) to Waiola (water of life).

So far so good.

At one time, both Keopuolani and Nahi‘ena‘ena were interred next to the church, along with the sacred queen’s last husband, Ka‘umuali‘i, a great chief from Kaua‘i. A monument identifies their presence, although the actual remains were likely relocated during the reign of David Kalakaua. Recent efforts have been made to restore the lake and to tell the story of this, one of the most significant sites in all of Hawai‘i.

Onward Christian soldiers…

Up-country Kona is a charming amalgamation of True Old Hawaii and whimsical counter culture weirdness–all with stunning views of the ocean.

On the Road to nowhere…

Lanakila Church/Kaona Uprising

Lanakila Church was the beginning and focal point for one of the strangest and more interesting episodes in Mauka Kona history during the latter half of the 19th Century.

This, the last church built by the ubiquitous Reverend John D. Paris, was finished in 1867.

Lanakila Church is still today a vibrantly strong, active parish of Congregationalists.

The quiet country setting of this church gives little indication that it was in the center of a violent, deadly uprising in the late 1860s. Called the Kaona Uprising, the events of 1867 and 1868 comprised a perhaps natural reaction of the native Hawai’ians to having been so recently, and completely, dispossessed of their way of life, their naturist religion and their ancient traditions.

The uprising started peaceably enough; in 1867 a man named Kaona introduced himself to the Reverend Paris, saying he had a great quantity of Hawai’ian Bibles he wished to distribute and asked permission to store them in the as-yet-unfinished Lanakila Church building. The Church elders assented and the Bibles were stored. However, Kaona and his followers tried to usurp the church building and its land for living space and at the pleas of Reverend Paris the Governor, Princess Ke’elikolani, eventually evicted them. Kaona moved his growing group of malcontents onto a neighbor’s property until rain and cold forced them to seek warmer lands downslope by the ocean.

Growing more powerful with each new cult member, Kaona resisted the efforts of the local law enforcement, in the person of Sheriff Neville, to evict them, reportedly spitting on and destroying the first eviction order.

Preaching Hellfire and Brimstone, and aided considerably by a rash of large earthquakes early in 1868, Kaona convinced his followers that he was the only true Prophet of God and that the earthquakes would destroy all but his most loyal followers. Sensing a mood of violence, Sheriff Neville determined to use force if necessary to evict Kaona and his band from their squatter’s camp.

In the ensuing melee, Neville and one native policeman were killed. Kaona then whipped his band into a religious frenzy of blood lust, exhorting them to go forth, slay the white people and set fire to their farms and homes. Such was the violence and threat that the South Kona Magistrate organized a volunteer militia for the protection of citizens, but the uprising wasn’t put down until the Steamer Kilauea brought troops from Honolulu to round up the violent mob several days later. Kaona was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment but was later pardoned and freed by King Kalakaua. He died a free man in Kona in 1883.

‘Blowing Kona’

The smell of plumeria, Hulopoe Beach, the pool at Manele Bay, aqaintances, and of course churches were all welcome sites upon my return.

During the late 19th century, a community of some 2,000 residents lived in the company town of the Maunalei Sugar Company. In 1901, the company failed, killed off by drought. A strange twist of fate, the first non-Hawaiian town on the island had to shut down because well water used to irrigate its fields turned brackish. Keomuku’s modest and stately homes turned to ruins, including the oldest church on the island, Ka Malamalama Church (1903). Built by the inhabitants of surrounding villages after the collapse of the island's sugar industry. All that remains of Keomuku is the church, a graveyard, and crumbling stonewalls.

On this island so full of mysteries, one can only speculate about the perverse fate of the Maunalei Company.  Drive about a mile from the ghost town and you'll see a walking trail on the right that leads inland to Kahe'a Heiau. Once the ancient Hawaiian site of human sacrifices, this sacred Hawaiian site was dismantled by the Maunalei Company to build a railroad to move sugar to Ka'halepalaoa Landing south of the heiau.  Did this violation of the sacred temple have anything to do with the company’s demise?

Kai Okahi Oka Malamalama Church

Situated in front of the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, feeling slightly out of place, this church has been a part of the Lanai community for nearly 80 years. Services are both in the Hawai’ian and English language. Visitors to the church are welcome.

The island, once almost entirely devoted to pineapple production, has become a destination for visitors eager to find Hawaii's natural side.

The first successful commercial milling of sugar in all of Hawai‘i began in 1835 in Kōloa Town on the South Shore.  It was to change the face of Kaua‘i forever, launching an entire economy, lifestyle and practice of monocropping that lasted for over a century.
By 1882 the workforce of Lihu'e plantation was up to 245.  It consisted of 76 Chinese, 60 South Sea Islanders, 55 Hawaiians, 43 Germans and 11 Norwegians.  Around 1885 pineapple plantations were started in Hawaii. In 1898 the sugar planters were able to convince the United States to annex Hawaii as a possession in spite of some native opposition. They knew that they would then receive a special payment for shipping sugar to the mainland. The islands eventually became a territory of the United State on June 14, 1900.
The German families here formed a strong community. They built their own church and established their own school on the Lihu'e Plantation with an imported German teacher. Fredrich Richter, a theology student who came on the first boatload, was not only the teacher but also the minister for the Lutheran congregation. The German language was spoken and taught for many years in both the school and the church.
The Lutheran Church in Lihu'e, Kaua'i, 1885
(photo courtesy of Ursula Timann)

The school was operating until 1918 when the United States went to war and the Isenburgs were urged to close the school. At that time there were still thirty-five students. Through these institutions the culture and traditions of Germany were undoubtedly kept intact on Kaua'i. Records were kept of all the births of the early immigrants and are now in the Hawaii state archives. Very few of these immigrant families remain in Kuau'i today except through intermarriage with the native Hawaiians, Portuguese, Norwegian or other nationalities. Many of the families immigrated to the mainland to Washington, Oregon and California by the early 1900's.

I love this ‘primm’ little church on top of the hill. 
Lihue Lutheran Church rebuilt twice, once in 1982 after hurricane Iwa and again in 1992 after hurricane Iniki.  The re-building of the church was accomplished with contributions from all over the world its mission statement is, Ka Hale pule ‘o na lahui apau…Hele pu makou me Jesu Krista-(“The Church of All Peoples…Walking together with Christ”).

"Joyful water" seems an appropriate name for a church on Kauai's North Shore, but it just so happens that the Wai'oli Hui'ia Church in Hanalei is named for the stream that begins in the green mountains and ends in Hanalei Bay.

Waioli Mission House, built in 1841, is one of Hawaii's best-preserved mission houses and therefore well worth visiting. While most mission houses are built in the New England style (including the interiors), the exterior of this house shows a definite influence of the Southern States. This can be attributed to the fact that the missionary William P. Alexander came to Kauai from Kentucky. Five years later, the Wilcox family, who were also missionaries, moved in. The rooms have been kept as far as possible in their original state and show the Hawaiian style of home decoration of the malihin (non-natives). A large part of the missionary Abner Wilcox's library can still be seen in his study including some of the earlier schoolbooks printed in Honolulu.

Christ Memorial Episcopal Church is one of the most picturesque Episcopal churches in the Hawaiian Islands.

In 1939 the Kilauea Sugar Company deeded the churchyard to Christ Memorial Church and gave the native stone used in the erection of the present building. The chief benefactor, however, was Mrs. Robert Shapard, of Griffin, Georgia, in memory of her husband, and on the Second Sunday after Epiphany on January 19, 1941 The Right Rev. Harrington Littell consecrated the church.

The graveyard surrounding the church dates back to the earliest days of the original Hawaiian Congregational Church, with many graves dating back over 100 years. Unfortunately, many graves are unmarked and the number of people buried here will probably remain a secret known only to God.

“Aloha is an overused, misused, and abused word that to ousiders merely means hello or goodbye. To Hawaiians, however, aloha is a state of mind that summons a spirit of generosity, tolerance, sponteneity, compassion and creativity that is infectious… …Aloha is an instinctive love that loops back through the generations. Aloha is the essence of the old churches of Hawai’i.”
-so ends the introduction to “Glory by the Wayside.”

I could not think of better words to end this post. Aloha.


the dusty trotter said...

Yeah, I found this church by accident!!!
See, there’s something about the hotels in Hawaii that don’t want you to go anywhere. Which makes you wonder ‘why’?
Could be that they want your money.
Could be that they’re worried about your safety.
Or it could just be that they create this adult-Disneyland for you…
So they can have the good stuff all to themselves.

Gisela (your co-pilot) said...

Thanks, had a GREAT TIME!

Karen said...

Hope you had a good rest .... away from the PC too? LOL

Aloha said...

Since the time of the ancients, Hawaii has always been a spiritual place. Virtually every aspect of life in ancient Hawaii was intimately related to religion. The gods and goddesses of the land were honored deeply and actively worshipped by its people, as ancestors and as guardian spirits, and the mana, power, of the chiefs was thought to derive directly from the divine.
Even today, the diversity and variety of religions continue to grow. New denominations of more traditional religions start churches and attract a following. New Age religions and services are available as well. There are many paths to Spirituality in these islands, and, in the Hawaiian tradition, most folks are tolerant of each other's choices.

Thanks for the post.

surfing dude said...

I grew up with more salt water than blood in my veins. In the mid-60s, the Jesus Movement was in full tilt, and so was this surfer dude. In Hawaii I surfed, on average, 365 days a year. Sunday's included. The Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel was the perfect venue for a surfer's "paddle-in" church. After the one-hour service was over we'd paddle right back out. I can still taste the salt water and feel the spray as the tube spits you out. Sure, it was a "para-church" thing, with no real commitments or relationships, but I didn't know any difference at the time. I just knew that somebody out there loved us non-conformist types.

Aloha :-) said...

Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono

a weary heart said...

I guess you are right. "This ain't no place for weary hearts.'
Thanks for the soundtrack. Fun.

Landsmann too said...

Vielen Dank fuer den paragraph.
re.: Lihui Lutheran Church

Ms. Edna (squared) said...

Gott befohlen ☄