Launch of a campaign to restore the historic church of Wailuku | News, Sports, Jobs

A fundraising campaign has been launched for the historic Ka’ahumanu Church to raise $2 million to restore the steeple and roof, as well as the inner sanctum and related infrastructure. The church has long served the Wailuku community by being a safe place for Hawaiian worship, celebrations, and visitation for guests. The Maui News / DAKOTA GROSSMAN photos

Valued for its architectural, historical, and cultural significance, Ka’ahumanu Church has long served the Wailuku community by being a safe place for Hawaiian worship, celebrations, and visitation for guests.

However, age and storms have deteriorated the nearly 190-year-old building in Wailuku over the decades, prompting church leaders to launch a campaign on March 3 in hopes of raising $2 million to restore it. the bell tower and the roof, as well as the interior. sanctuary and related infrastructure, such as floor and walls.

“The church has historical roots, the property itself has historical roots”, said Kahu Wayne Higa, who was installed as pastor in 2006 and has been a member since 1998.

Whether it’s a keepsake from a church wedding, attending a service with family or simply driving through the High Street lot on the way to work, Higa said on Friday that “I’m sure there are many stories of the Ka’ahumanu Church, and I encourage people to tell their story.”

Repairing the church buildings and grounds atop the town of Wailuku is consistent with the overall restoration and preservation of the town of Wailuku, said George Burnette, vice moderator of Ka’ahumanu Church.

The nearly 190-year-old Ka’ahumanu Church in the town of Wailuku is slated for much-needed restoration and infrastructural repairs.

To kick off the church’s fundraiser, King Cathedral of Kahului donated $10,000, Burnette said. A Maui County Grant and a State of Hawaii Grant are being applied for.

Due to its current condition, the bell tower is a priority, Higa said.

Hawaii Architects completed the drawings and pro bono renderings in 2021 for the Ka’ahumanu Church project – the goal is to restore the church and its character to its original condition; there will be no change.

Founded in 1832, Ka’ahumanu Church has served as a Hawaiian place of worship as well as a monthly gathering place for local residents and visitors to enjoy celebrations, performances, special events, and various other social events. and cultural.

For more than a decade, it has also been the site of a Hawaiian immersion preschool program, Punana Leo O Maui.

Valued for its architectural, historical, and cultural significance, Ka’ahumanu Church has long served the Wailuku community by being a safe place for Hawaiian worship, celebrations, and visitation for guests.

“Throughout his many years of service to our community, it has become clear that we must continue to preserve and restore a unique Wailuku site that promotes Hawaiian culture, music and education,” Burnette said in an email. “The church plans to continue to serve as a meeting place for support groups and other human service needs.”

Burnette shared that Queen Ka’ahumanu attended a service at these church grounds after its establishment and requested that when a permanent shrine be built, it be named after her.

This request was finally honored in 1876 with the completion of the current building and the bell tower was built the same year by Wailuku Sugar Co. and the Reverend Edward Bailey.

Ka’ahumanu Church was listed on the National Historic Register in 1975 and on the National Register of Historic Places six years later.

“It is one of Maui’s oldest Protestant mission churches, celebrating its 185th anniversary in 2017,” said Burnette.

The property was also part of the royal compound of Kahekili, the last independent reigning king of Maui, Higa said. The present shrine is believed to have been built with stone from an 18th century on-site heiau, as well as parts of the wall facing the church, along the High Street.

There are two cemeteries on the church property where several early Hawaiian converts to Christianity are buried, including Bartimaeus Pua’a’iki, known as “Blind Maui Preacher,” and in unmarked locations, John Honoli’i and Thomas Hopu, two of four Hawaiians who studied in New England and were part of Boston’s first contingent of Christian missionaries, according to Burnette and the church’s website.

Because the sacred building still stands, it not only represents the missionaries who entered the church, but the history of Native Hawaiians, Higa said.

These efforts to restore the Ka’ahumanu Church have been ongoing for several years, said Higa, who described the trip to launch the project as a “cycle up and down.”

Weather conditions over the decades have had a severe impact on both the church and the nearby kindergarten, Higa said.

More recently, a storm in 2015 damaged the roof and tore an opening in the steeple, which Higa said was repaired with a temporary patch. In 2016, the church was fumigated for two days to deal with drywood termites that had accumulated since the previous fumigation, which had been carried out nearly 30 years earlier.

Some works as well as temporary fixes were carried out in 2016 and 2018 to restore the pews and the bell tower, respectively.

Between completing all the necessary studies, finding contractors, creating renderings, overcoming blockages in their efforts, and raising funds, Higa was hopeful on Friday that they could make some real major repairs.

“We all wanted this done, community members wanted this done,” he added. “It seems like the timing of everything seems to be going in the right direction. There’s a lot of other things we need to take care of at church, so it’s nice to see that at least that part is paying off right now.

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* Dakota Grossman can be reached at [email protected]

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Martha J. Finley