On October 1, 1872, the Hawaiian Evangelical Association Theological School opened its doors for men interested in a life of Christian ministry.
In its infancy, Rev John D Paris became the head of the institution, accompanied by Rev Dwight Baldwin and Rev Benjamin W Parker as instructors.
Recruitment of Native Hawaiian students was an ongoing problem. A year after the school opened Rev. Paris wrote, “Aka, auhea la ka nani o ke aupuni kanaka ole?! Auhea hoi ka pono o ke Kula Kahuna haumana ole?” (But where is the glory of the Kingdom without men? Where indeed is the value of the ministers’ school without students?) (Williams)
Beginning with 13 students, the school endeavored to graduate these men as ministers in order to send them on to more missionary work around the world, paying special attention to the Pacific.
The school’s three-year program curriculum included Bible History, Sacred Geography, Church History, Natural Theology, Evidences of Christianity, Christian Theology, Composition and Delivery of Sermons, and Pastoral Theology.
The Theological School took up residence within an older structure, previously used as a Marine Hospital, owned and operated by Dr. Gerrit P. Judd. It was located at the corner of what is today Punchbowl and South Beretania Streets in Honolulu (presently, where the Kalanimōku Building (DLNR & DAGS) is situated.) (In 1874, Paris retired and moved back to Kona.)
In 1877, Rev. Charles McEwen Hyde was sent to Hawaiʻi from Massachusetts to reorganize the school as the North Pacific Missionary Institute.
Hyde was former valedictorian at Williams College and graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary; he envisioned “a grand opportunity to do important service for Christ and for the world.” (Williams)
He quickly picked up the Hawaiian language in order to converse with the indigenous population, and began delivering his sermons in Hawaiian.
“With great skill and patience and energy he has conducted its affairs, and the Institute has been one of the most effective agencies for the support of Christian institutions at the Islands.”
“But Dr. Hyde’s energies were by no means confronted to this one seminary. He sought in every way to upbuild the native Hawaiian churches, and to promote the work of education in schools of all grades.”
“’From this institution has gone forth, under the training of Dr. Hyde, the whole circle of younger men who today fill the pastorate of the Hawaiian churches.’ And after referring to several of these pastors by name, it is well added: ‘These men are the best of witnesses to the faithful and painstaking service of this most indefatigable of teachers.’” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, December 13, 1899)
Hyde served as Principal until 1883, until resigning his position to the temporary care of Rev. Henry H. Parker.
In 1889, it was decided by the Hawaiian Board that a new building was to be erected that would accommodate the seminary’s students with better living and learning quarters. A wooden structure was built in 1890.
The building had 16-dormitories and several large lecture rooms for instruction. During construction, the students attended classes at Kawaiahaʻo Church.
“Eleven students had been under instruction, three of these having entered this year. Instruction is now given in the afternoons as well as the mornings. Friday afternoon and Saturday are the only times available for such work as may be available as a means of self-support.”
“It has been necessary therefor to supplement the meagre weekly cash allowance, granted by the Hawaiian Board, by the distribution of weekly rations of rice, bread, salmon and kerosene to each student. The students are not pampered children of ease by any means, but learn from the very first to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, June 7, 1895)
“In the training which it furnishes to these leaders of the churches, the theological school affects the moral and religious life of the country. It holds the same relation to the ministerial profession that the law school does to the legal profession, or the medical college to the practice of medicine.”
“A well trained ministry is peculiarly necessary at the present time for the Hawaiian Islands. Everything is in a transition state, and a strong ministry is needed, which can hold to the good which has been achieved in the past and make it effective in the new order of things which is to come.” (Hawaiian Gazette, November 6, 1896)
“The work of the Institute in training Hawaiians for pastoral and missionary service has been carried on as heretofore. It has also been enlarged in its scope, so as to furnish more instruction through the use of the English language.”
“Rev. John Leadingham, formerly instructor in the Slavic department of the Oberlin Theological Seminary, has been appointed by the ABCFM Associate Instructor in the NPM Institute and began his work in November, 1894.” (Board of Education Report, 1896)
“Professor Leadingham’s lessons in English have not been confined to the students, but he has kindly consented to teach English to a class of young Hawaiian lawyers. Two Portuguese young men also, who wish to enter the gospel ministry, have been under instruction for the last three months.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, June 7, 1895)
“The privileges of the Institute are now opened to other nationalities, and in addition to the 8 Hawaiian students, one Portuguese and one Chinese are taking the prescribed course of study. This extends over three years. In some instances, a fourth year is added for special study.”
“Of the thirty-six pastors now serving the fifty-five Hawaiian Evangelical churches, twenty-five are graduates of the NPM Institute. Besides these there are six graduates engaged in foreign missionary work in the Gilbert Islands.” (Board of Education Report, 1896)
In 1900, Leadingham became the Principal (he left the islands in 1904.) The Hawaiian Board later redirected its efforts into the consolidation of Kawaiahaʻo Seminary, Mills Institute and the Japanese Boarding School into the Mid-Pacific Institute.
The “first great step in the development of its higher educational work by purchasing between thirty-six and thirty-seven acres of land in Mānoa Valley – the Kidwell estate. Upon this it is proposed to locate the Mid-Pacific Institute”.
“In making this purchase the Board has parted with the premises of the North Pacific Missionary Institute on Punchbowl street to the Methodist church” (and, in between, the Korean School.) (Hawaiian Star, May 18, 1907) (Lots of information here is from Williams and Mission Houses.)
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