There is nothing more profound and everlasting than the arrival of Christianity in the Hawaiian Islands. Prior to western contact Hawaii was a collection of islands each independently ruled and a host of gods and demi-gods were the focus of religious beliefs in the Hawaiian culture. After the birth of King Kamehameha the Great, and the arrival of Pacific explorers bearing names like Cook and Vancouver, the islands were is the grips of significant and permanent changes never before seen. Along with westerners came cannons, muskets and swords all of which assisted Kamehameha in his successful quest for unification. Stories of unenlightened natives sparked a deluge of missionaries. The first who arrived were Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Dutch Reformists. The seven couples arrived on the Thaddeus from New England in 1820 at Kawaihae along the Kohala Coast.

Today the work of the numerous missionaries can be found all over the islands. Historic churches of the Big Island can be found from Hanalei to Hilo and everywhere in between. Here are a couple of Big Island must sees:

Moku'aikaua Church
75-5713 Alii Drive Kailua Kona, HI 96740
(808) 329-0655
Lat: 19.640054 Lon: -19.640054
Located in the heart of Kailua-Kona, this lava rock church sits proudly just steps from the ocean. The lava rock church was founded in 1820 by Asa and Lucy Goodale Thurston who were among the seven couples who arrived in the island on the brig Thaddeus. The missionaries where tasked to teach Christianity to King Kamehameha II, and the Queen Regent Ka’ahumanu. The land was gifted by then Governor Kuakini and remains today across the street from Hulihee Palace. Today the church has a thriving congregation and is open for tours. The church houses several missionary artifacts including a scale model of the brig Thaddeus.

Saint Benedict Roman Catholic Church
84-5140 Painted Church Road
Captain Cook, HI 96704
(808) 328-2227
Lat: 19.434324 Lon: -155.888841
Not exactly on the beaten path, this Catholic Church is still a gem worth searching for. Best to be included in a day that will include other South Kona hotspots like the coffee farms and Pu’u Honua o Honaunau, this historic church is located at the 13,680 feet level on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Founded in 1942 by Father Joachim Marechal, SS.CC. the church was quickly followed by the first Catholic school in the area. Today, the property is the location of two churches with the smaller older one set aside for visitors. The interior walls of the church are painted with scenes from the bible. The depictions were used as a teaching tool for islanders who had difficulties with the reading and understanding the English language.  Visitors are always welcomed to enjoy the church and grounds.

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Article Edited/Contributed by: Lottie T.
Published/Updated:

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