ROD THOMPSON / RTHOMPSON@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Rev. Charles Dobbs walks on the front lawn of Honokaa United Methodist Church, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its congregation.
Improved Honokaa church hits 100
The Big Island congregation of Honokaa United Methodist Church spruced up the old plantation church for its centennial celebration, and there are more improvements to come.
The multicultural congregation that worships at the church on Honokaa's main street traces its roots to the immigrants from Korea and the Philippines who came to Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations.
The 100-member congregation will welcome former members and supporters to the Oct. 7 anniversary festivities. The Rev. Woong-Min Kim, Hawaii district superintendent of the United Methodist Church, will join the Rev. Charles Dobbs in leading the Communion service at 10 a.m. Lunch will follow in the fellowship hall.
A highlight of the celebration will be the dedication and blessing of the building improvements, notably an access ramp and paved parking lot. The ramp will make it easier for handicapped and elderly people to enter the sanctuary, an alternative to the 25-step front stairway.
Plans are in the works to make the church a destination for younger generations, too, said Rose Dobbs, the pastor's wife. They envision installing outdoor lighting and basketball court equipment to put the parking lot to wider use.
Efforts to rejuvenate the 1927 vintage wooden building have been supported with a $30,000 Jubilee Grant from the United Methodist Church California Pacific Conference and a $10,000 grant from the Atherton Family Foundation.
The congregation also faced construction work that was not in the centennial plans. The Oct. 15 earthquakes set off a cascade of lava rocks from the chimney serving the "fireside room" of the building. The unstable top of the structure was removed, and the chimney will be capped, said Rose Dobbs. Other Methodist churches in Hawaii and Dobbs' former congregation, Sun City United Methodist Church in California, contributed to the repair work.