The queen was fond of the congregation – which once numbered in the thousands, according to church records – and donated hymnals, cut-glass chandeliers and a seven-dial, universal-calendar clock. The church was renamed for Liliʻuokalani in 1975.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves, let’s step back.
Over the course of a little over 40-years (1820-1863) (the “Missionary Period”,) about 180-men and women in twelve Companies served in Hawaiʻi to carry out the mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in the Hawaiian Islands.
The Prudential Committee of the ABCFM gave the following instructions to these missionaries: “Your mission is a mission of mercy, and your work is to be wholly a labor of love. … Your views are not to be limited to a low, narrow scale, but you are to open your hearts wide, and set your marks high.”
“You are to aim at nothing short of covering these islands with fruitful fields, and pleasant dwellings and schools and churches, and of Christian civilization.” (The Friend) Reverend John S Emerson and his new bride Ursula Sophia Newell Emerson were part of the Fifth Company of missionaries.
Emerson was born December 28, 1800 in Chester, New Hampshire; he descended from a branch of the Emerson family emigrating from England and settling in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1652. Emerson left home at the age of 15 and started his studies preparing for college, and subsequently graduated from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1826.
After graduating, like so many of the Alumni of American colleges, he became a teacher before entering upon his theological studies. These were pursued for three years at Andover, where he graduated in 1830. He anticipated becoming a missionary in India, but, yielded to a special call from the Sandwich Islands.
He married Ursula on October 25, 1831 in the old parsonage of Nelson, among the New Hampshire hills, where her father, Rev. Gad Newell, was the pastor from 1794 to 1859. They left for the Islands a month after their wedding (November 20, 1831) and spent almost six months on board ship – arriving in the Islands May 17, 1832.
“Very soon after his arrival the ‘general meeting’ of the Mission assigned Mr and Mrs Emerson, to the station of Waialua, on Oʻahu.” (The Friend, April 1867) Waialua stretched along the coast for 30-miles with a population of 8,000. They sailed from Honolulu on a small schooner to get there.
On July 24, 1832 they formed the Congregational Church at Waialua, Oahu’s second oldest Hawaiian church. The first facility (first of four) was a hale pili (thatched house,) dedicated on September 25, 1832 (it was situated at what is today the site of Haleʻiwa Joe’s on the corner of Kamehameha Highway and Haleʻiwa Road.)
“From the commencement of his labors at Waialua, he endeavored to interest his people in the diligent reading and study of the Bible. He had so arranged the reading of the Bible, that his people were accustomed to read the entire Bible through once in about three years.”
“In the daily morning prayer-meeting which has been kept up for many years, at the church, and which he usually attended, he would read and comment on the chapters for the day. We recollect, some months ago to have asked an old Hawaiian, belonging to the Waialua church, how many times he had read the Bible through. His reply was “eiwa” (nine!)” (The Friend, April 1867)
The government selected a spot for a second church to replace the first one. An adobe building, about 100-feet by about 50-feet was built around 1840-1841 on what is now the cemetery area of the present church property.
Emerson served the Church until 1842 when he took a position as professor at the Lahainaluna Seminary on Maui, and also served as pastor of the Church at Kāʻanapali. He published five volumes of elementary works, three of them in the Hawaiian language, and, while at Lahainaluna, was joint author, with Rev. Artemas Bishop, of an “English Hawaiian Dictionary,” based on Webster’s abridgment (Lahainaluna, 1845.) He later returned to Waialua and served the congregation until 1846.
Service to the people was equally shared by Ursula. “We are also much impressed by the well-drawn character of Ursula Newell Emerson, whose lovable personality, together with her bountiful, untiring hospitality, is a treasured memory in Hawaiʻi. She nobly rounded out the work of her husband”. (The Friend, October 1928)
A third church was built of wood in 1890 on the present location and it was this building that Queen Liliʻuokalani worshipped in when she stayed at her beach home along the banks of the Anahulu River.
“Our famous clock was donated to the church by Queen Liliʻuokalani on January 1, 1892. The clock is 32 inches in diameter, with seven functions and hands, one (of) which made one revolution every 16 years!”
“The uniqueness of this one-of-a-kind clock, is that the numerals on the clock dial telling the time were replaced with the letters of L-I-L-I-U-O-K-A-L-A-N-I, the queen’s name.” (Church Moderator Kuulei Kaio, Star-Bulletin)
The present church building was built after the wooden one was declared unsafe. In 1960, the fourth (and present) church made of cement was started. This new building was dedicated on June 11, 1961. (Later renovations were completed in 1985.)
Theodore Alameda Vierra was the architect for the present church. He was born on the Big Island in 1902 to an Azorean born Portuguese father and Hawaiian-Scottish mother. He graduated from Kamehameha Schools as president of his class in 1919, graduated from college in San Francisco and later won a scholarship to Harvard University School of Architecture. Vierra was the first native Hawaiian to be admitted to the American Institute of Architecture. (HHF)
The weather vane at the top of the church steeple is in the form of an ʻIwa bird (frigate) in full flight with a fish in its mouth. Haleʻiwa was the name of the seminary that the Emersons established in the area and the village was eventually named Haleʻiwa (house of the ʻIwa bird.)
ʻIwa is also the name of a slender leafed fern and there are 2 of these leaves at base of the vane. The religious connotation is brought together with the fish in its mouth. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea gathered many kinds.” (Lots of information here from the Church website.)
The image shows the Liliʻuokalani Church in Haleiwa. In addition, I have added others similar images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
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