Using Preservation Funds to Help Preserve Hawaii’s Oldest Christian Church
The Sam and Mary Cooke Preservation Fund for Hawai‘i supports diverse preservation projects with grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Grants are awarded three times a year and the next application deadline is February 1, 2017. Click here for more information. Below is the story of how one grant recipient is benefiting from the Fund.
Mokuaikaua Church has an impressive past. Their website shares the history of how the first missionaries sailed on the Thaddeus from Boston and arrived in Hawai’i after 164 days. While at sea, Kamehameha the Great died and his son Liholiho became ruler. After this the ancient kapu system was abolished with no belief system to take its place. Hawaiian high priest Hewahewa had prophesized that a new God was coming and had even burned his own temple in anticipation paving the way for the first missionaries.
Built in 1837, Mokuaikaua Church is the oldest Christian church in the Hawaiian Islands with a congregation dating back to 1820. The impressive stone archway that graces the entryway to the property was built in 1910 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the arrival of the first American missionaries to Hawai‘i in 1820.
Mokuaikaua represents the “new” western architecture of early 19th-century Hawai‘i and is a symbol of Hawai‘i’s missionary past. Its roof and iconic steeple were built with ‘ōhi‘a wood that had been cured in the ocean. Its walls are constructed of lava rock believed to be built out of stones taken from a nearby heiau, and mortared coral. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
In 2014, Mokuaikaua Church was named to both the National and Hawai‘i lists of Most Endangered historic sites due to its need for major repair and restoration. Damage includes large cracks in the south corner walls from an earthquake in 2006, termite damage of the steeple, and an aging wiring and electrical system.
Pastor David de Carvalho and the church’s Restoration Committee realized raising the money to properly restore the church would take community support on a grand level. They envisioned a mobilization campaign to educate and inspire. The Sam and Mary Cooke Preservation Fund for Hawai‘i has provided much needed funds to re-purpose the “Thaddeus Room” located in the back of the sanctuary as a community awareness room and exhibit to showcase the unique history of the church, its current state of disrepair and the steps needed to restore it. The campaign to raise awareness and funds utilizes media, print and other outreach materials effectively to build the community momentum and harness the support needed to successfully restore the church.
“The repurposed Thaddeus room has been very informative, educational and has definitely brought a greater awareness and of the rich history of our church to the local community and visitors. And having the visual portion of the room has increased our donations. During the course of my work day I’ll pass by the room and see people sitting at the conference table watching the videos and getting information about our church and the restoration. It’s definitely been beneficial for the church, the community and visitors. The church’s restoration is a large project and required us to start somewhere and take small steps toward our larger goal. As recipients of the Sam and Mary Cooke Preservation Fund for Hawai‘i, we’ve been able to do just that,” said Tanya Manasas, Assistant Administrator, Mokuaikaua Church.