Star-Bulletin Features

Saturday, July 21, 2001

New Hope Christian Church halau members practice.
They are, front from left, Tiana Komeiji and triplets
Galen, Garett and Gabriel Mizunaka; and back from
left, Luana Weinstock, Malie Tilton, Laurie Young
and Sharon Masuyama.

That new?time religion

These churches are traveling
the same road, but in
slightly different vehicles

Theirs is a creative Gospel

By Mary Adamski

If a visiting evangelist proposes to preach at the Honolulu Assembly of God, he'll get a letter from the Rev. Harold Headrick setting the ground rules.

"I don't want him to roam. Healing is OK, but I don't want him to push anyone over. And don't give God a clap offering, give him praise."

That's the old-time religion style of Headrick, 88, founding pastor of the Kaimuki church. The congregation plans to celebrate its 27th anniversary at an 11 a.m. ceremony and reception today at the church at 1007 Koko Head Ave. A tribute to their outspoken and admittedly old-fashioned pastor was the focus of the celebration.

"I'd call him Mr. Pentecostal of Hawaii," said the Rev. Jerald Ogg, pastor of Kailua Assembly of God. The Kailua building, completed eight years ago, is one of dozens of churches that Headrick built in the past 54 years. "He's a builder of buildings and a builder of people," Ogg said.

Headrick combined his calling as minister with expertise in construction throughout his adult life. He formed Headrick Development after arriving here in 1947 with more than 15 years experience building power dams, air strips and ships and a diploma from Glad Tidings Bible Institute in San Francisco. He served at several other churches and was district superintendent of the local Assemblies of God Council of 77 affiliates for 15 years.

Longtime Pastor Harold Headrick makes a point in
his Honolulu Assembly of God church office.

The builder-preacher estimates that he participated in building 100 churches, including many that were not of his denomination, often providing materials and labor at cost.

His opinions about the modern show business tactics which other congregations employ are no secret. Headrick has chastised his colleagues in other churches and he was aroused to write a letter to the editor in a daily newspaper decrying a visiting evangelist who pulled in crowds using what he called "hypnotism, the power of suggestion."

"All this clapping. It's worldly, I won't allow that in church," said Headrick. "God's holy, he's awesome, give him praise.

"I've always been Pentecostal, but some of these churches are too wild for me," said Headrick, who began his ministry as a street preacher after he arrived in Hawaii.

"Hula dancing in church, I don't buy that. It's on the fleshly side," he said. "People take Scripture out of context. In the Old Testament, there was dancing, hand-clapping to celebrate victory. That wasn't happening in the temple. The Holy Spirit wasn't in people individually then.

"I'm not interested in 'singspiration'... standing up and singing off the wall. I'm old-fashioned. In the hymnal, there is doctrine, what we believe.

"We raise our hands and sing," said Headrick. He does use big screens, not for singalong choruses but to show transparencies of his notes and of graphic illustrations such as Hell depicted as a lake of fire.

"We have altar calls, which many have stopped because it might embarrass people." People may choose to come forward to be prayed over and anointed with oil "Those with situations in their lives come down and we pray. You want to be prayed for, you are having trouble ... give it to God."

None of those new Bible translations either: "I only use the King James Bible."

"A lot of pastors don't tell people what the Bible says. Because they draw a crowd, people believe it is the power of God. The argument is that 'people are getting saved here.' Are they?

"I don't pull any punches. I'll preach against abortion, divorce ... and homosexual lifestyle. God loves everyone but hates sins. Homosexuality is not by birth, it's a sin. They can be forgiven and delivered from it."

The Kaimuki church has about 200 members and he's not inclined to envy bigger crowds elsewhere. "Numbers are not important to me, not at all. If you stop and think, the multitudes followed Jesus for the loaves and fishes. But when he was crucified, only his mother and friend were at the foot of the cross. On Pentecost, only 120 were gathered and received the Holy Spirit."

When he built the Kaimuki church, he put a tall cross atop it, and faced opposition from a community association charging it violated the sign ordinance. Then-mayor "Frank Fasi called off the building department" and the cross remains.

The grandfatherly pastor frequently greets visitors "I know how far you are away from God," and he delights in the response which may reflect guilt, chagrin, tears. "One breath away," he'll say. "That's why what I've got to be sure of is where I stand with Jesus right now, today."

Theirs is a creative Gospel

By Mary Adamski

A church looking for space to grow and a prison escape that underscored a legislative resolution to relocate the Kalihi prison. Pastor Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Christian Fellowship added them up and met Gov. Ben Cayetano with an offer to buy the 18-acre Oahu Community Correctional Center site.

It is very preliminary, of course, but it all has become a very real dream for the imaginative leader of one of the burgeoning new Christian churches.

About to mark its sixth anniversary, the church now claims about 9,500 on its rolls and 8,000 people at weekend services held at Farrington High School's auditorium.

Cordeiro and his crew are credited and envied by other congregations for their well-organized operation, which offers worship in the trendiest packaging: a backup band, comic skits, devotional dances and upbeat scriptural messages delivered in theme series, such as the recent "God's Home Remedies."

"We'll do whatever it takes to get the message out," said Executive Pastor Elwin Ahu, who on the previous Sunday had rolled out a stove and filled the hall with a smell of garlic as he used his stir-fry as "a metaphor, a word picture" to demonstrate the wonderful combinations that can be created when people "mix and blend the flavors in you with those other people have."

Ahu left a Circuit Court judgeship for his position on the 50-member paid staff, which coordinates a full menu of ministries, self-help, sports and social programs, video, music and publications production and sales. All of this is coordinated from the refurbished former offices of Consolidated Amusement on Sand Island Road.

Executive Pastor Elwin Ahu, left, and Senior Pastor
Wayne Cordeiro of the New Hope Christian Church.

One office at headquarters holds a relatively new, self-supporting entity, New Hope International, through which George Iranon and Daniel Shima will direct "church planting" efforts. New Hope has already "planted" six churches on the Big Island and four others on Oahu and supported missionary pastors to other countries.

Another effort "in its infancy stage" is Pacific Rim Bible Institute in some offices on Dillingham Boulevard. The institute offers classes for pastors in South Pacific- and Asian-language congregations and has a goal of preparing leaders for any church.

"Part of our DNA is to be a church-planting church," Ahu said. "New Hope is a resource type of church. Tithing is converted back into ministry, into the community."

Cordeiro said, "We have a heart to help other churches." Last year, New Hope gave $480,000 from its collections to other churches, and it's currently spending $11,000 a month to subsidize other pastors whose congregations can't support them, he said. The church last month installed a $125,000 air-conditioning system at the Farrington auditorium, which is the latest of nearly 30 locations where the growing congregation has convened.

Cordeiro left this week to visit New Hope congregations in Japan. He is frequently invited to speak to leadership conferences and evangelical gatherings, developing themes from his books "Doing Church as a Team" and "Developing an Attitude That Attracts Success."

Despite other local churches' tendency to quote his growing numbers, the Palolo-born preacher says: "It's not a competitive thing. The great commission is not to get members, it's to repair the damages sins have done," he said, citing news stories about white-collar crime and domestic abuse.

Members praise Cordeiro's imaginative ways of driving scriptural messages home. That imagination was in high gear when they refitted a warehouse in the headquarters as a sometime sanctuary -- and sometime gym where 300 take dance ministry classes. Carved in the cement beneath the carpet and penned behind the drywall are hundreds of scriptural citations written by members who were asked to record God's promises.

New Hope is affiliated with the Foursquare Gospel Church, founded in Los Angeles by Aimee Semple McPherson during an American Pentecostal revival in the 1920s.

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