One might wonder why two Episcopal Churches are within a block from each other (St Andrews Cathedral and St Peter’s Episcopal Church – at Emma’s Square in Honolulu.)
What may appear odd and unnecessary placement at first makes more sense as we look back (in context of those times) …
Kamehameha IV and his Queen were both very interested in the Anglican/Episcopal Church and in 1859 asked Queen Victoria to send them clergy of the Church of England and in 1861 gave land on which a Cathedral was to be built.
While planning and fund-raising began a small Pro-Cathedral was constructed of wood on the corner of Nuʻuanu and Kuakini Streets in 1862.
After the Bishop’s arrival in Honolulu, the King and Queen were baptized and confirmed in the Anglican Church. (This was the second baptism for each; in their childhood they had been baptized in the Calvinist faith.)
The first services of the church were held on October 12, 1862, amidst a time of mourning for the only son of the King and Queen had died shortly before the arrival of the Bishop.
The subsequent untimely death of King Kamehameha IV on St Andrew’s Day, November 30, 1863, led his brother, King Kamehameha V to dedicate the cathedral to St Andrew as a fitting memorial to a King.
Queen Emma traveled to England to raise money, to commission architects and to purchase stone from Caen in Normandy, which was shipped to Hawaiʻi. The corner stone was laid March 5, 1867 by King Kamehameha V and the cathedral was completed in time for Christmas, 1886. (Queen Emma died before completion of the cathedral.)
That same year, St Peter’s Episcopal Church was founded on land given by Queen Emma in 1885; however, the history leading to its founding is a little more complicated, as well as telling to the creation of neighboring Episcopal churches. We need to look back a little farther.
The first sugar mill was introduced to Hawai‘i by a Chinese in 1802. As interest in sugar production grew, to be commercially profitable, sugar plantations had to import foreign laborers. The Royal Hawaiian Agricultural Society, which was founded in 1850, began to bring workers to sugar plantations starting in 1852; the first came from China. (Fan)
After the signing of the Reciprocity Trade Agreement between the United States and Hawai‘i in 1875, there was a tremendous increase in immigration; by 1884 the Chinese laborers constituted about a quarter (22.6 percent) of the total population of Hawai‘i.
Many of the Chinese who came, and subsequently their children, had Christian backgrounds.
After the Opium War of the early 1840s, between Britain and China, the mainland of China was opened to western missionaries. Chinese population centers became of special interest to European Christian missionaries.
There was a heavy emphasis on Christian education. Children of converts, both boys and girls, were placed in parish and boarding schools, and a seminary trained future pastors and teachers, many of whom emigrated to Hawai‘i. (Kaestens)
The Chinese contract laborers coming to Hawai‘i included Christians who had been baptized in China. (Fan) Many ended up on the sugar plantations in Kohala.
Receiving preaching of the gospel in their native tongue and converting others to Christianity, around 1882, the St Paul’s Chinese Mission in Makapala, Kohala was established. (Char)
A few years later, the founding families of St Peter’s Church arrived on O‘ahu by way of Kohala on the Big Island as Christian families from China.
Brought to the Islands to work in the sugar plantations, following their contracted services, many moved to Honolulu for other work opportunities.
The congregation of the first Chinese church in the Anglican communion of Honolulu met at a store and at the Pro-Cathedral on the Cathedral grounds until its size demanded a building of its own. In 1914, the current church building was completed.
It is suggested that the naming of the churches (and their proximity) relate to the relationship of St Andrew and St Peter. St Andrew, the first disciple of Jesus, was the brother of St Peter (Simon Peter,) another disciple/apostle.
Both lived and worked as fishermen in Galilee but gave up their lifelong careers and lifestyles, leaving everything behind, to follow Jesus. They were each part of the original 12 apostles of Christ, leaders of the early Christian Church.
St Peter’s is one of the oldest historically Chinese congregations among Asian American Episcopal churches. History and demographics have transformed St Peter’s along with the rest of Hawai‘i.
While remembering and honoring its Chinese heritage and founders, the present St Peter’s church community represents the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, cosmopolitan dynamics of Honolulu and Hawai‘i. (St Peter’s)
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