Reverend Elias and Ellen (Howell) Bond sailed with the Ninth Company of Missionaries from Boston. The Bonds arrived in Honolulu in May of 1841. They were then assigned to Kohala.
Reverend Isaac Bliss, an elderly missionary in Kohala, had already completed a main house of what is known as the Bond Homestead compound when Bond arrived in Kohala in June 1841.
The compound eventually included the Bond Homestead (1841) Kalāhikiola Church (completed in 1855) and Kohala Seminary (Kohala Girl’s School – complex founded in 1872.)
The area was described in an 1849 account (in ‘The Island World of the Pacific’) as follows: “It stands in the center of an area of some five or six acres, enclose with a neat stone wall, and having a part of it cultivated as a garden, adorned with flowering shrubs and trees, as the pineapple, guava, acacia, mimosa, tamarind, kukui, mulberry, geranium, banana, Pride of China, sugar cane, etc.”
“The house is thatched with long leaves of the hala-tree (Pandanus), and has a very pretty, neat appearance, in connection with that tasteful keeping of the walks and grounds, like the pictures we have of thatched cottages and rural scenes of Old England.”
To provide employment to the people in the region and support his church and schools, Reverend Bond founded Kohala Sugar Company, known as “The Missionary Plantation,” in 1862.
“On December 23rd, 1876 there arrived for the Kohala plantation thirty Christian Chinese, four with their wives, and two children. The following year the little Oriental colony had increased to forty-five, the second company of Christian Chinese arriving in January.”
“How eagerly Father Bond welcomed them to his fold and how he rejoiced in the greater freedom of action furnished by plantation dividends, may be seen in a letter of October 17, 1877:”
“‘I sent in August for a minister to preach to our English speaking population. …. Now I write to see if we can obtain from the coast a Chinese Evangelist for these growing numbers of Chinese among us with no possible medium through which we may speak to them of Jesus.’”
“‘The Master has wonderfully helped us in all our plans and I will trust Him. I think I have learned more and more to trust Him, of late.’”
“And soon the long anticipated arrival and labors of Kong Tet Yin were announced: ‘March, 1878. … My errand to Honolulu was to get a Chinese, Colporteur and Evangelist. It was an unexpected opening, the man with highest testimonials from China and Australia.’”
“‘The Master favored my errand. I secured the man, and secured from the Kohala Sugar Company the means for paying his salary. Thanks to God for all.’”
“‘April, 1879. …. Our Chinese work is gradually getting into shape. I am much pleased with the Evangelist, though I sorely feel the difficulty involved in our inability to communicate freely, he having no knowledge of the English. ‘He is a good speaker and manifestly a man of character.’”
“‘We have just arranged for an independent Chinese service on the Sabbath, excepting on Communion and Monthly Concert Sabbaths when they will meet with us. This arrangement will probably draw in more of the pagan element among our Chinese population.’”
“‘My idea was to have them meet with us only on Communion Sabbaths, but they wished to meet also on Monthly Concerts, and probably, till they attain to a somewhat enlarged measure of the habit and grace of giving for religious purposes, it will do them no harm to meet with our native congregation on such Sabbaths.’”
“Thus, all went well, if slowly, with the little ‘Chinese Zion’ in Kohala. February of 1883 saw a plot of ground given by the plantation and set off for a church building for the Chinese [a chapel called Kaiopihi] the first in the Islands.”
“In May of the same year a visit was recorded from ‘Father Damon’, who shared to the full Mr. Bond’s interest in the Chinese and was one of the first to organize Christian work among them in Honolulu. On July 29th of this same year the Chinese church body of Kohala was formally organized.” (Damon, Father Bond)
Kohala is a good example of the development of churches in a plantation community. Kalahikiola Church was the Hawaiian church where Father Elias Bond was pastor.
When the plantation was started, a Chinese church soon came. Later Kohala Union Church came into being for English-speaking residents, followed by a Japanese church in 1894 and a Filipino church in 1933.
By 1942 all churches except the Filipino church were having services in English. The Japanese and Chinese churches merged, and a few years later all except the Filipino church merged with Kalahikiola. (Mulholland)