November 6, 2006
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" ~ Psalms 46:1
Our beautiful and historic Kalahikiola sanctuary was devastated by the 6.7 magnitude earthquake on October 15, 2006. The beloved old church is 151 years old.
Kalahikiola, meaning “The Day Salvation Comes” is the name of a small hill on the side of the Kohala Mountain. The name goes back to the time of the arrival of the first Christian missionaries here; a time when a new faith was entering into the hearts and minds of the island people. From that hill came the great timbers for the present church building; so that when the church was consecrated on October 11, 1855 it was appropriately given the name Kalahikiola. The Reverend Elias Bond and his wife Ellen arrived in Kohala in 1841 where they spent their whole lives working for the people and the churches of Kohala. Father Bond, as he was soon to be called oversaw the building of Kalahikiola. He also learned to speak the Hawaiian language and opened a school for boys and teachers. Later Mother Bond started the Kohala Girls School. When in later years immigrants came from other lands to work on the sugar plantations Father Bond cared also for their spiritual welfare and churches were started for these language groups.
By 1950 almost 100 years after the building of the church, the churches of the Japanese, Chinese, Caucasian, and Hawaiian Christians joined under one roof, Kalahikiola. [Some years later the Pilgrim Church, persons of Filipino ancestry, joined this initial union] We are happy to be able to report that this was the first union of independent language churches in the islands. The congregation today still reflects this diversity.
The morning of the earthquake the faithful pastor Reverend George Baybrook, traveled across the boulder-strewn Mountain Road from Waimea to meet with 15 people. There he read from Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear through the earth give way.” The devastated sanctuary has been a reminder to the congregation that the true church is not a building but its people. The congregation is dedicated to the responsibility of being good stewards of this church which is listed in the National and State Historic Registries. Any rebuilding will be under the strict and careful guidelines of these organizations. The congregation of the church has voted to rebuild the sanctuary.
We have had many meetings and committees are hard at work. Plans to stabilize the church are underway. The building committee is working with contractors and the Historic Society. The finance committee is organizing a fund drive to pay for the huge cost of rebuilding our church. At this time we would appreciate your prayers. To learn more of the church and this project go to our website - KalahikiolaCongregationalChurch.com. Together we will again be able to honor and praise God in our beloved old sanctuary.
Phyllis Richards and others