Former isle pastor was pioneer in Micronesia
Chester Terpstra / 1917-2007
The Rev. Chester Terpstra celebrated the centennial of Protestant missionaries' arrival in Micronesia by following in their footsteps to work as a pastor in Pohnpei for 11 years.
"He had a great love for Pohnpei," said the Rev. David Hirano, interim pastor of Central Union Church, and the islanders "thought a great deal of the Terpstras."
Terpstra "was very much like a pioneer in Micronesia," said the Rev. Nelson Kwon, a retired United Church of Christ minister. "He established a pastor school. The plan was to train the Micronesians so they could do the work of ministry. It was one of his great contributions."
Terpstra, 89, died last Thursday in Sequim, Wash., after a long illness. He was former pastor of several churches in the United Church of Christ denomination here, including Central Union Church, Kaimuki Evangelical Church, Makiki Christian Church and Waimea Christian Church on Kauai.
He served as Hawaii conference minister of the denomination from 1968 to 1978. Terpstra was elected to the top post after "tumultuous years" in which some UCC churches were at the forefront of anti-Vietnam War activity and other social issues. "He brought some stability to the conference," Kwon said. "He was a little more conservative in his views. He also brought financial stability."
Hirano said Terpstra was instrumental in the development of the Craigside apartment towers on church property in Nuuanu. "He really made a good impact on the conference, not to be forgotten."
Kwon said, "One of his aims was to train local people in Bible knowledge. It was something he stressed a lot." Terpstra taught evening Bible classes for years in Honolulu.
Terpstra was born in Allegan County, Mich. He graduated from Wheaton College and earned a doctorate at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He and his wife were brought to Hawaii in 1945 by the Hawaiian Board of Missions.
He is survived by wife Margery and sons Marshall, Michael and Merrill. Friends may write to them at 1844 Woodcock Road, Sequim, WA 98382.
A memorial service was to be held today at the church in Kolonia, Pohnpei, where he served for 11 years. A memorial service in Honolulu will be held at a later date.