Worship in English and Hawaiian
If you would like to hear a Christian church service in the beautiful cadence of the Hawaiian language, as well as in English, visit the Kawaiahao Church at 957 Punchbowl Street in Honolulu. Designed by the Rev. Hiram Bingham, a forceful leader of the Congregational mission during its earliest years from 1820 to 1841, Kawaiahao Church was built to replace four grass structures earlier used for worship.
The Great Stone Church was built by the men of the congregation with the blessing of King Kamehameha III. The task was monumental, but in 1842, the church, which was the largest building in Hawaii, was completed. The work took six years. Deeded to the people and the mission by the king that same year, Kawaiahao takes its name from a spring at the site, the waters of Hao.
Dominated as it was by both the missionaries and the ruling monarchy, it was the site of many historic events. On July 31, 1843, after Britain’s Rear-Admiral Richard Thomas returned to King Kamehameha III his sovereignty over the islands, the king spoke the beautiful words that later became the motto of Hawaii: Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono. Translated to English, the words mean: The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.
If you choose to visit the church, please don’t sit in the pews in the back. These pews are marked by feather kahili (standards) and velvet cushions and are still reserved for descendants of royalty. Sunday services, conducted in both Hawaiian and English, begin at 10:30 a.m. Songs are sung in Hawaiian.
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