“Commodious houses for public worship have been erected by the principal chiefs, with the cheerful aid of the people, in the places of their residence; and when there is preaching, these chiefs regularly and seriously attend, and their example is followed by great numbers of their subjects.”
“Churches are gathered, as with us, wherever there are pastors to take the care of them, and accessions are made to them, from time to time, of such as we may reasonably hope will be saved.”
“In one small district, which, but a few years since, rung through all the length and breadth of it with the cries of savage drunkenness, a thousand people have associated on the principle of entire abstinence from the use of intoxicating liquors.”
“Moreover, in that same district and in two others, with a united population of perhaps 40,000, where the morals were as degraded, a few years ago, as anywhere on earth, a fourth part of the inhabitants have formed themselves into societies for the better understanding and keeping of God’s holy law, and require unimpeachable morals as a condition of membership in their several fraternities.”
“All these are believed to be facts. And they are traceable wholly to the blessing of God on the establishment of a Christian mission on those islands, a little more than eleven years ago.”
“But, to guard against misapprehension, it is necessary to take another view. A moment’s reflection is sufficient to show, that after all the work of evangelizing and civilizing those islands is but just commenced.”
“The nation is yet in its infancy. It is just beginning to understand the advantages of the social state. The elements of individual improvement, and domestic happiness, and national order and prosperity, have been introduced, and the contrast between the former and present condition and character of the nation, as such, is great in almost every respect.”
“Very few, however, have done more than merely to cross the threshold of knowledge. Three-fourths of those, who are capable of learning to read, have yet to acquire the art.”
“A collection of all the books in the language would not contain as much matter, as there is in one volume of the Missionary Herald.”
“Salvation through the Lamb that was slain, is brought within the reach of thousands, and many have fled and are fleeing to lay hold on the hope set before them; but how few are their helps, compared with those which we have, and with what they ought to possess.”
“The regular preaching of the gospel is enjoyed by not more than one-fourth of the inhabitants. The rest see only a few rays of heavenly light. Recently two small companies of idolaters have been discovered in obscure parts of Hawaii, and no doubt there are others who retain an attachment to their former superstitions.” (Monthly Paper, ABCFM, September 1832)
Over the course of a little over 40-years (1820-1863 – the “Missionary Period”,) about 184-men and women in twelve Companies served in Hawaiʻi to carry out the mission of the ABCFM in the Hawaiian Islands.
One of the earliest efforts of the missionaries, who arrived in 1820, was the identification and selection of important communities (generally near ports and aliʻi residences) as “stations” for the regional church and school centers across the Hawaiian Islands.
As an example, in June 1823, William Ellis joined American Missionaries Asa Thurston, Artemas Bishop and Joseph Goodrich on a tour of the island of Hawaiʻi to investigate suitable sites for mission stations.
On O‘ahu, locations at Honolulu (Kawaiahaʻo,) Kāne’ohe, Waialua, Waiʻanae and ‘Ewa served as the bases for outreach work on the island.
By 1850, eighteen mission stations had been established; six on Hawaiʻi, four on Maui, four on Oʻahu, three on Kauai and one on Molokai.
Meeting houses were constructed at the stations, as well as throughout the district. Initially constructed as the traditional Hawaiian thatched structures; they were later made of wood or stone.
“All over the Islands, the Sabbath is remarkable for its stillness. Large congregations assemble for religious instruction in every district. Children are everywhere gathered into Sabbath schools. Adults are associated in Bible classes. Daily morning prayer meetings, and weekly or semi-weekly lectures and conferences are attended in most of the churches.”
“Most of the children of the nation, and most of the members of the churches, commit one verse of the Bible every day. Thousands ask the blessing of God on their daily food. As many observe morning and evening family worship.”
“If able, all members of churches give something for the support of the gospel, while at different times several religious associations are remembered in their prayers and benefactions. …”
“And according to their ability and numbers, it may be safely said that the Sandwich Islands churches are giving more for benevolent purposes than any other body of Christians on the globe. God alone knows their motives; we speak of facts only.”
“Among several hundreds of Hawaiians in this State a few are church members. Quite as many of these, in proportion to their numbers and advantages, have maintained their integrity as among other classes of professed Christians.”
“They brought with them their Bibles and hymn books. They took them to the mountains. In their encampments they have met for worship on the Sabbath. Two or three of them have acted as exhorters to the whole. …”
“… They are facts of great interest. They indicate a change in the mental, moral, social, political and religious condition of a people during a single generation, which may well strengthen the faith of the church in the practicability of the world’s conversion.” (Hunt)
“It is not claimed that this change has been wrought wholly by the American Mission. Various causes have conspired to accomplish the result.”
“Idolatry had become superannuated, and that peculiar state of things had arrived when the nation were ready for a change. At that juncture God raised up an instrument to effect it. He sent forth the great Kamehameha on his career of conquest, to unite the warlike tribes in one. That revolution in the government gave the nation the first impulse.”
“Then succeeded the revolution in the religion of the people by his son and successor, Liholiho, by which the nation were delivered from the ancient system of tabu.”
“But these revolutions only partially removed the burdens of ages. They broke not the yoke of despotism. They robbed not superstition of its ghostly power. They cleansed not the people of their vileness. They only concentrated in one king the power of many. Still in the one there was less oppression than in many.”
“While, therefore, we rightly appreciate science, letters, commerce and the arts, we must assign them an inferior rank as instrumentalities in the elevation of the human race—We must give to christianity the preference above all others.”
“For while christianity fosters and employs all others, it does what no others can do. It changes the heart, the fountain of all desires and emotions, and so effectually breaks up superstitions and redeems from vice.”
“To the gospel, therefore, whose peculiar province is the human heart, we look for relief from all the sins and woes that degrade and distress the family of man.”
“To that gospel, as preached and taught from the pulpits and the press of the Sandwich Islands Mission must we mainly attribute whatever changes for the better have there been wrought during thirty years of labor for the instruction and admiration of the world.” (Hunt, 1853)