Article Written By: Katrina Valcourt, HONOLULU Magazine
When we last wrote about Ka‘ahumanu Church, it needed $700,000 to restore structures on the property. Unfortunately, that number increased to $1.5 million to do essential repairs after February’s storm wreaked havoc on the steeple and adjoining buildings, especially the Hawaiian immersion school. According to the Rev. Anne Wong Troy, some progress has been made—they’ve gotten some grants, and a company lent the church a crane for free—but there’s still a long way to go. “There are musicians and artists willing to donate their time [to fundraisers], but the church is so small they can’t get enough volunteers to collect money, organize the concert, be at the door, etc.,” Troy says. “If there are 10 people there on a Sunday, that’s a large number.” Anyone willing to volunteer or donate can go to kaahumanuchurch.org.
Listed as Endangered in 2013
Article Written By: Victoria Wiseman, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
Historic churches are an important symbol of the missionary period of Hawaii’s history. The Kaahumanu Church, built in 1876 on the grounds of an old heaiau, has a congregation that is 181 years old.
“The structure was designed by Edward Bailey. The complex from the church to the Bailey House was originally King Kahekili’s compound. He was the last ruling alii of Maui before unification,” says the church’s kahu, Wayne Higa.
Its traditional steeple stands in stark constrast to the verdant natural environment around it. For years, Higa says, the clock on the tower was central to Maui and defined “Maui time.” Its graveyard holds the blind preacher of Hawaii, Bartimaeus Puaaiki, who was also the first licensed pastor of Hawaiian ancestry.
What threatens it?
The church’s wooden structure is nearly two centuries old, and termites and salt air have ravaged it. “We’ve been given a figure of $700,000. We’re looking at restoring the sanctuary of the church and four other structures on the property,” Higa says. “One was a theater, and it’s used by our Hawaiian immersion preschool. It needs a lot of repairs. From a safety point of view, with children there, it’s at the top of our list.”
He also says they hope to restore other buildings to become a kitchen and office space. “It’s more than rebuilding buildings,” Higa says. “It’s becoming part of the community again.”
What can be done?
Restorations of historic churches generally rely on their congregations for funding and labor. But with only 30 members, Higa says there has not been consistent maintenance over the years. They are exploring how to raise more money from sources outside the church walls, but it’s a tough learning process for a congregation without many businesspeople, Higa says. “We’re taking it one step at a time and giving it to God to help lead us.”