Star-Bulletin Features

Kawaiahao celebrates
spread of gospel

Star-Bulletin staff

The history of Kawaiahao Church is well known in Hawaii since it was the first church established by the first Christian missionaries to arrive.

Tomorrow, the Honolulu church will be the setting of festivities celebrating Chapter 2 of the spiritual saga. A 4 p.m. service will mark the 150th anniversary of the spread of the Protestant mission from Hawaii to islands in Micronesia.

The 1852 venture was the first effort in which Native Hawaiian missionaries spread the gospel to other Pacific islands, said the Rev. Margery Terpstra, coordinator of the event for the Woman's Board of Missions.

The program will include music by Micronesian islanders living in Hawaii, as well as the Kawaiahao and Kaumakapili church choirs. A letter written by King Kamehameha III recommending the local company of teachers to the people of the South Pacific islands will be read.

The early missionaries to the South Pacific will be introduced through readings from an 1895 biography of Luther Halsey Gulick, Hawaii-born son of missionaries. Going with Gulick and his wife, Louisa, were Berita and Deborah Kaaikaula, who took Christianity to Pohnpei, and Daniel and Doreka Opunui who taught on Kosrae.

The Kaaikaulas and Opunuis were Kaumakapili Church members and "they were sent out with a jubilant service. It was a historic time in the life of the church," said Terpstra.

She and her husband, the Rev. Chester Terpstra, have a personal interest in the festivities. The Hawaiian Board of Missions brought them here in 1945, then sent them to Pohnpei for an 11-year mission. "We were recruited to go celebrate the 100th anniversary in 1952," said Terpstra, who is a minister at the First Chinese Church of Christ. Chester Terpstra retired as Hawaii conference minister for the United Church of Christ.

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