This is the Oldest Church in Hawaii Dating Back to 187 Years

With such a complicated and colorful history, it’s no surprise that Hawaii’s oldest church is a significant historical site. For millennia, native Hawaiians inhabited Hawaii, bringing with them their own culture, beliefs, and spiritual traditions.

Many spiritual ideas in Hawaiian culture center on people’s relationship to the land. When traditional Western religious groups arrived on the island, things changed.

Many of the early settlements and activities aimed to bring Western religious traditions and rituals to Hawaii. The first Christian church, Mokuaikaua Church, is still intact and is Hawaii’s oldest church.

Where is the Mokuaikaua Church?

This is the Oldest Church in Hawaii Dating Back to 187 Years

This church is found on the Big Island, often known as Hawaii Island. It is the hub of Kailua-Kona, a town on the island’s western side. Kailua-Kona is located on the other side of Hawaii Island’s oldest and largest city, Hilo. The steeple makes the church easily identifiable inside the town. The church’s gate is also a prominent landmark in Kailua-Kona.

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History of the Mokuaikaua Church

When Christian missionaries first arrived in Hawaii, many of them wanted to create congregations to teach their beliefs. Asa and Lucy Goodale Thurston were two Protestant missionaries who arrived in Hawaii in the early 1800s.

At the time, Hawaii was a sovereign kingdom, and they needed permission from King Kamehameha II to open their church. He granted permission, and they began teaching Christianity in Honolulu, near the royal palace. They finally relocated to Kailua-Kona after discovering that there was interest in the area. The first church was built of wood from Hawaii’s state tree, the ohi’a.

This is the Oldest Church in Hawaii Dating Back to 187 Years

The current church, built of stone, was completed in 1837. The stones were originally used in traditional Hawaiian temples of worship. The roof was made of ohi’a wood, and koa embellishments were used throughout the inside. Overall, the church represented a strong link between the land and religious ideas. It housed the congregation, which dates back to the church’s establishment in 1820.

Mokuaikaua Church remains an active Christian congregation. They hold services, prayer groups, study groups, and a variety of other religious outreach activities.

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Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s oldest, stands as a testament to the dynamic history of spiritual traditions in the islands. Built-in 1837 on the Big Island, it reflects the convergence of Western Christianity with native Hawaiian beliefs. Today, it remains an active congregation, embodying the enduring connection between culture, land, and religious heritage.


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