Hawaii's Oldest Christian Church



Mokuaikaua Church was founded by missionaries who came from Boston Massachusetts on the brig Thaddeus. After 163 days aboard the 85 foot brig, the First American Missionaries arrived in Kailua Village on the 4th of April, 1820.

They came to ask the king's permission to build Christian schools and churches in the Hawaiian Islands. However, they soon discovered that the great king Kamehameha had just recently died, and that his son Liholiho (Kamehameha II) had taken over rule of the kingdom.  They also learned that the young king had already given orders to tear down the old temples, and burn all the wooden idols of the old religion.

There are three reasons for the young king's orders: First, the Hawaiian people were already familiar with the Christian religion for over forty years, with the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778, and all subsequent arrivals of American, and European sea merchants who brought Christianity with them.  Second, the Hawaiian people were not happy with the many rules and restrictions of the old religion.  One rule in particular was the one which called for women not to be allowed to eat with men. The Hawaiian queens were not in favor of that rule, so they persuaded the young king to abolish the old religion.  Third was a matter of comparison. Whereas the old Hawaiian religion had many gods and goddesses, and was all based upon the fear of them; the Christian religion has just one God, and is based on His love for all people.

So, the young king gave the missionaries permission to build schools and churches in Hawaii. However, the Hawaiian people did not become Christians right away. They needed to understand the why, and how, of God's love.  In order to explain this, we need to look to the human race. Since the beginning of time mankind has always been both good and bad.  However, whenever a person would commit a wicked or evil act, the usual was to approach God, or gods and goddesses, with an offering or sacrifice at an alter of some kind to ask for forgiveness of sin.  But the Bible informs us that God does not want any form of sacrifice, for all are imperfect, and that one day God would send the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of all mankind's evil.  So God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, holy and righteous in every way, to die on the cross and be that perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of all mankind's sin, once and for all times. But the proof that God was working out His redemptive love for all of mankind, was that He would raise His Son from the grave on the third day. And God did exactly that.  God did all this so that anyone who would believe in Jesus, confess with their mouth that He is Lord, and believe in their heart that God has raised Christ from the dead; turn away from sin, and follow His ways, may be forgiven of sin, and live eternally with God in heaven.

When the Hawaiian people understood that God loved them so much, that He would sacrifice His only begotten Son in their behalf, and in behalf of all people, they were happy to become Christians, and so they built Mokuaikaua Church.  The walls of the church as seen from the outside, are built with stones taken from the old temples. Then, the Hawaiian people climbed Mount Hualalai, and cut down 'Ohi'a trees, and carried the large lags down to build the church building that is still standing, and in use today.  There were two thatch roofed Hale (ancient Hawaiian architecture) that preceded the existing building. The current building was completed in 1837.

Over a period of thirty years, many churches like Mokuaikaua Church were built throughout the kingdom of Hawaii. And over that same period of time, many Hawaiians became missionaries, and went out into the Polynesian, Micronesian, and Gilbert islands to share the gospel of God's love with the people there.


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