Waiola Church is rich with history. The church has played an extremely important role in Lahaina, as well as the rest of the state and the many developments over the years. It has lasted through many hard times, and still stands as an example of our cherished Native Hawaiian culture, always persisting and persevering. There are 3 aspects of the church we plan to cover on this webpage. Those are, Physical, Spiritual, and Cultural. And now we begin our journey through time:
Waiola Church was first dedicated in 1823, as Waine’e Church. Just three years later in 1826, the first church was blown down by wind and replaced by stone and wood. In 1832, the second church building was dedicated, and stood for a proud 26 years. In 1858, a whirlwind ravaged the Roof and church steeple, but was repaired without too much trouble. The church stood safely for another 36 years, until it was destroyed by fire in 1894. A new church building was built, a gift from Henry P. Baldwin, and that lasted another 50 years until it was partially destroyed by fire again. It was restored and re-dedicated only to be completely destroyed by a Kaua’ula wind three years later. The Church finally changed its name from Waine’e Church, to Waiola Church in 1954, and has been safely and well taken care of for the last 54 years. The materials changed over time from grass, to coral, then to stone and wood, and then to the stronger materials such as brick.
Also built were other establishments somewhat connected to the church and its congregation such as the Lahuiokalani church established in 1850 in Honokowai, known as current day Kaanapali Congregational Church. Also built was Honokohua Church, Established by D.T. Flemings on what is now Flemings beach. Honokohua Church serves as a preschool for Kapalua children. Although there are only crumbling rock walls left where it once stood, another branch of the Church was built in 1850 by Native Hawaiians, and was constructed of local materials. Lastly there was the branch out in Kahakuloa where John Kukahiko was a priest at for over 60 years. The priesthood at the church has changed 16 times since the original establishing of the church, and some reputable and well-known priests and preachers include the current Kahu Kekapa Lee, who is a renowned storyteller, singer and song composer, back to father W. Dwight Baldwin who preached from 1837 to1868 .
Waiola Church was where Christianity basically began for the Island of Maui. The Christian religion really caught on when High Chiefess Keopuolani became interested and impressed with the Missionaries and the message they brought. Keopuolani had a great say in literally the whole territory of Hawaii, and was considered to be the highest ranking Ali’i in Hawaii, higher than her husband, Kamehameha the Great. Keopuolani was a very influential, controversial, and important person in Hawaiian history. Kamehameha and Keopuolani had twelve kids together, two growing up to become Kamehameha II and III. Keopuolani was spoken of “with admiration on account of her amiable temper and mild behavior", said William Richards, a missionary who befriended the Hawaiian Monarchs. Keopuolani thought that the Kapu system of laws weren’t very good for the people and later, after Kamehameha the Great died in 1819, banished the Kapu system. Unfortunately she fell ill and died on September 16, 1823, but not without being the first baptized Christian in Hawaii. She was granted her request to be buried in a royal tomb, and still lays in the Waiola Cemetary, as she has for the past century and a half.
A rendition of High Chiefess Ka'ahumanu
Waiola Church has extremely strong cultural ties to the people and land of hawaii. Waiola church served royalty for years as Lahaina was the capital of the territory, and is on some of the most rich land in the state. The many church leaders and congregates participate in many cultural practices such as hula, taro planting, and speaking and teaching tradition and the Native Hawaiian language. Waiola Church is one of the most important church sites in the state of Hawaii, and hopefully it will remain that way for years to come.
A full-write up of the cultural connections to the church and the massive changes the hawaiian culture underwent is available on the Culture page, (Here)
Waiola Church is one of the few still standing buildings and monuments of the hawaiian royalty long ago, and the great changes that Hawaii and its people went through in the 19th century. We are glad to hold this significance and cherish it and plan to perpetuate the culture and religion here at the church.
Created by Kawai Stanich
© 2008 Waiola Church. All rights reserved.