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Kona, February 23

Many thanks to Diane Lindsay for sharing this link from the pages of Connecticut history: https://todayincthistory.com/2024/02/17/february-17-a-great-hope-for-hawaii-dies-in-cornwall/  I won’t repeat the story you can read here; simply put, it is about a young man named Henry ‘Opukaha’ia (which some have Americanized as “Henry Obookiah”) who was an integral part of the story of the earliest mission endeavors to Hawai’i.  This past Sunday, given the date of Henry’s death, UCC churches across the state celebrated “Henry ‘Opukaha’ia Sunday,” including the one we attended.  It was a wonderful way to honor him.

Yesterday we visited the Moku’aikaua Church, United Church of Christ, in the center of Kona.  (Unfortunately, due to a renovation project, we were unable to see the interior.).   The church is the very first Christian congregation in Hawai’i, founded by Revs. Hiram Bingham and Asa Thurston, who arrived from Boston on the Brig Thaddeus, which anchored in Kailua Bay on April 4, 1820.  Originally constructed of wood and thatch, it was destroyed by fire, leading to a more practical construction described by the photo below.  What the description does not include, however, is that part of the material used was salvaged from an ancient heiau, or sacred place of worship used by native islanders.  This proved prophetic, in that so much of the congregational missionary impulse co-opted and amalgamated native religion and culture.

The photos below include two views of the current church building, a marker and a description denoting the building and its construction as it presently stands, and a striking sculpture on the church grounds depicting Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus.

church building 1

church building 2

mokuaikaua sign

Hulihee Palace

Jesus healing

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United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT 06412. (860) 526-2697

 

From the North: Take CT Route 9 South to Exit 8 (old exit 6) (CT 148). Turn left; we are 1 mile on the right.

 

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