Maui's Historic Churches
A tour of Maui's historic churches will add perspective to the island's multi-ethnic heritage. Here's a sample of what can be found:
Ka'ahumanu Church on High Street in downtown Wailuku is named for one of Hawaii's first Christian converts — Queen Ka'ahumanu. The queen, who was the wifeof Kamehameha I, was instrumental in breaking the ancient Hawaiian kapu (taboo) system, bringing an end to idol worship and abolishing traditional Hawaiian religion. This Congregational church was built in 1874, replacing another stone church built by Protestant missionaries in the 1830s.
Portuguese immigrants built the Holy Ghost Mission in Maui's Upcountry in 1894. The church's unusual octagonal structure is the only one of its kind built during the 19th century in Hawaii. Its altar and 14 Stations of the Cross were brought from Austria in about 1897 and are priceless examples of museum quality 19th century ecclesiastical art. Hand-carved, gilded and painted more than a century ago by a master European craftsman, the words on the stations are in Old Portuguese. This is the only artwork of its kind in Hawaii. The church and artwork were restored for its 1994 centennial. Holy Ghost is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historical Places. The mission is open to visitors every day and church services are held at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
To get there from Kahului, take Highway 36 (Hana Highway) toward Pa'ia until you reach the Haleakala intersection. Turn right onto Hwy. 37 and drive past the Pukalani exit and through the "Five-Trees" intersection just before King Kekaulike High School. This is Lower Kula Highway. Continue about five miles until you see a sign pointing left toward Holy Ghost Church. Turn left on Lower Kula Road and drive about a half mile until you see the Kula Community Center on your left. The church will be on your right.
Between Pa'ia and Makawao on Baldwin Avenue are two more historic churches, Holy Rosary with its statue honoring Father Damien and the Makawao Union Church. Both feature unique and beautiful stained glass. Keawalai Congregational Church on Makena Road in Kihei conducts its 9:30 a.m. Sunday services half in English, half in Hawaiian.
The Japanese Buddhist temple at Mala Wharf in Lahaina is more than a century old and houses one of the largest Buddha statues outside Japan. The Buddha sits atop an outdoor platform. Every evening at 8 p.m. a large bell rings from the mission compound sounding the voice of Buddha. The Wo Hing Chinese Museum on Front Street, also in Lahaina, features an historic collection, including an altar, that traces the history of the contributions of the Chinese people to Hawaii.
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