History of Kahalu'u UMC
Here we wish to feature the rich history of our church. Let us tell you our story through the words of those who built this church to be what it is now. The page will show you excepts of our 75th Anniversary book. Many great pastors, dedicated and loving lay leaders contributed to the piece and here we would like you to see who we are from their words...
Excerpts from Baseball Evangelism
The Rev. Chinpei Peter Goto knew how to attract Japanese boys to his church through baseball. In 1909, Chinpei was baptized at the South King Methodist Church. He became a leader among the youth while employed in Honolulu. He was known as a baseball star and an excellent tennis player. But he also participated faithfully in evangelistic street preaching in the slums of Honolulu, in the Sunday school, and the Epworth League.
Since he had no theological training, he studied by means of the Conference Course of Study under the guidance of a Senior Elder, the Rev. Tokuji Komuro. For five years, Chinpei diligently took examinations at the Annual Mission Sessions until he was duly ordained a Deacon in 1927 and Elder in 1929.
Goto wrote one of the first books on baseball in the Japanese language. He knew the popularity of the game would attract a lot or boys, so he carried on his bicycle’s handlebar a bag containing baseball gear on one side and the Bible on the other. It must have been a heavy Bible to keep the balance.
Goto was assigned to Windward Oahu, covering an area of about 30 miles, where there were only three Japanese who were Christians among a scattered population of workers. These Japanese laborers worked in sugar and pineapple fields, as truck farmers and in piggeries. It was here, in the Fall of 1927, that Goto began a ministry of 27 fruitful years.
He started with no church building. His ministry was basically pastoral involvement with individuals and families. It meant calling in humble homes, after long hours of labor, with words of encouragement and concern, usually from Holy Scripture, and a prayer.
First he traveled by foot from house to house, then rode a bicycle, and finally used a Model A Ford. But his evangelism was more identified by the colorful “Three B’s:” firstly, he was always seen traveling on his bicycle; secondly, he was often carrying his baseball gear; and thirdly, without fail he carried his Bible. He would pause periodically to roundup interested youth for a game or two. His activity was always highlighted by the reading of Scriptures. And his method of baseball evangelism won for him and for Christ scores of youth who later became faithful Methodist lay persons.
Between 1927 and 1954, this circuit rider organized flourishing work in Kaneohe and Kailua. In addition, he carried on the work started at Waimanalo, Kahuku and Kahaluu. Goto listed 593 Sunday school students in his block, with an average attendance of 463 in five schools, and with 18 teachers.
Alex R. Vergara, Editor
Waves 1888-1988, A Centennial Jubilee
Our Mission Statement and Programs and Services for God’s People October 15, 2006
The Mission Statement of Kahalu’u United Methodist Church affirms our beliefs and commitment as Christians. It provides the guidelines for our spiritual development and brings focus on programs and services for God’s people. As we work to develop a healthy community, we try to strengthen our love for God and to reflect this love in our relationships with our neighbors.
From its early beginning, our church has been actively involved in addressing issues that impact on the well-being of the people. The community has always looked to the church for leadership in addressing social justice issues. In the early years in the life of the church, the members were young and able to bear the brunt of the work in developing a stronger community. Over the years, especially recently, we have found the need and have learned the value of developing partnerships with other organizations and groups to collaboratively work to mitigate the injustices suffered by the people. The stories that follow show ways in which Kahalu’u UMC has been an integral force in serving God’s people.
Family Promise is a nationally validated Interfaith Hospitality Network that organizes churches to open their facilities to families in need. The host churches provide housing and meals for the families a week at a time. The families move from one church to the next until they are able to find housing of their own. Kahalu’u United Methodist Church has been actively involved in addressing the needs of the homeless. While our facilities could not provide shelter for the families chosen to be a part of the program, we volunteered to be the support church for St. John’s By The Sea Episcopal Church. We have provided meals for two nights, provided overnight hosts for two nights, did the laundering of the beddings after the week’s stay was over, provided school supplies for four children as they prepared to start a new school year, and gave assistance to the host church as needs were identified. Our involvement in this program provided opportunities to renew and strengthen our ties with people in our community who worship at St. John’s By The Sea. It fostered our appreciation of working with people from different faiths. It deepened our appreciation of the power of love that can make a difference to people and the tremendous impact of the interfaith effort that is contributing to the success of Family Promise of Hawaii in helping the homeless families. With everyone’s efforts, several families have been able to find reasonable rental units.
Kualoa-He’eia Ecumenical Youth Project (KEY)
The Kualoa-He’eia Ecumenical Youth Project (KEY) is a non-profit agency which provides programs to benefit the people of our community, from youth to seniors. The organization has been in existence for more than 35 years. Members of Kahalu’u UMC have been an integral part of the organization from the very beginning. A member of the church continues to serve on the Board of Directors.
Our concern for feeding the hungry in the community prompts us to contribute, on a regular basis, to the KEY’s Emergency Food Program. On the third Sunday of each month, our members donate non-perishable food to the Food Bank. This coincides with the day set aside for our own “coffee hour,” a time we set aside for fellowship and sharing of food.
KEY Project is also the site for food distribution to the needy on the third Monday of each month. For the last four years, the Windward District Office of the Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP) has worked with the Hawaii Foodbank to make food distribution more accessible to the low income families in the community. Members of our congregation, together with other church groups, are the workforce to bag and distribute the food. The partnership of organizations in the community makes this kind of service to God’s people possible.
Ke Kumu Ola O’Kahalu’u
Rev. Bob Nakata
Ke Kumu Ola O’ Kahalu’u, a group of several small churches in Kahalu’u, has revived the long, dormant ecumenical efforts to serve our community. In the late 1960’s these ecumenical efforts led to the creation of the Kualoa-He’eia Ecumenical Youth (KEY) Project, which has become a well-established human and community services center. However, church participation had gradually lessened over the years. Then, several evangelical congregations sprung up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, joining the more liberal churches like ours and St. John By The Sea Episcopal Church. Beginning with a joint candlelight vigil in the aftermath of 9/11, new efforts are being made to work together. These churches have been a strong part of the Anti-Ice movement. In 2004, their efforts influenced the State Legislature into greater funding for anti-substance abuse programs. The funding has continued over the years.
Joint Easter Sunrise services, Christmas activities and events such as picnics brought the congregations together. There has been a collaborative effort to organize annual events which bring the community together: the Alternative Halloween Night provides a safe, fun-filled night for the children and adults in the Kahalu’u area; a Community Thanksgiving Luncheon is a special event where the churches invite the community to come together for a hearty meal and fellowship with entertainment provided the members of Ke Kumu Ola; and Breakfast With Santa, an initiative by Mrs. Nora Takeno, promotes family bonding and happy memories. The Breakfast event, the children’s favorite, is supported by the generous donations of food and gifts by members of the churches and community. For many families, the gifts from Santa at the Breakfast may be their only presents for Christmas.
Ke Kumu Ola O’Kahalu’u is still in the process of growing. With God’s grace, they will survive and thrive in the community.
Kahalu’u Elementary School
Kahalu’u Elementary School is blessed with a strong community support from Kahalu’u UMC and the other churches. Ke Kumu Ola’s efforts are focused on helping the children of Kahalu’u, particularly through helping the Kahalu’u Elementary School. Some of the projects which have supported the students and the school include:
The Kahalu’u Security Watch which was organized when the school had a rash of break-ins and graffiti problems. Volunteers from the churches, parents, and community members helped to patrol the school grounds and nearby areas nightly on weekends. As a result of their efforts, break-ins have stopped and the problem with graffiti has lessened. The Kahalu’u Security Watch continues to be an effective force.
First Night is a special event started in 2001 to enable students, parents and faculty and staff to visit with each other before the hectic first day of school. Ke Kumu Ola helps with the preparation of food and serving of dinner to all who attend the First Night event. Some of the essential school supplies are donated and distributed to every student in Kahalu’u and Waiahole Schools.
Members of our church volunteer their services, such as serving on the School Community Council, reading to students during the breakfast period, helping in the fund-raising events, and providing other services as needed.
Ho’olaulea, Curriculum Fair and Fun Fair was organized under the leadership of Hope Chapel Kahalu’u. This was a first-time fund-raising event for the school. The event raised over $7,000 for the school. It also provided an opportunity for the parents and community to see the outstanding work done by the students of Kahalu’u Elementary. It also provided time for all to experience a sense of pride in our children, Kahalu’u Elementary, and our community.
Kahalu’u United Methodist Church and Pack and Troop 117
In the late 1980’s, KUMC became the sponsor of the Pack and Troop 117. The sponsorship was facilitated by Elwin Spray who worked with the Boy Scouts on Oahu at the District level. Mr. Yasu Takeno was the Scout Master then. This troop believed in hiking and camping. They learned how to set up tents, tie knots and do outdoor cooking. They also did a lot of service projects, picking up trash and pulling weeds. They painted our sanctuary on two different occasions as Eagle Projects for Nathan Oshima and Derrick Kam. They have also assisted the church on clean-up days by pulling weeds and painting the education building. At one time, our church families of Myrone and Carol Murakami and Dan and Carolyn Iseri were active in the scouting program. Their boys have grown and are no longer in the pack or troop. Currently, none of our church families are involved in the Pack and Troop, but the church continues to be the sponsor. We see the value of the organization and the opportunities it provides our boys to become effective citizens. We support the Pack and Troop by budgeting $160.00 for the Makahiki event. Once a year, the boys attend our service and provide breakfast for the congregation. More recently, the church has been exploring ways in which we can strengthen the bonding between the Pack and Troop 117 and the Kahalu’u United Methodist Church. Myrone and Carol Murakami together with Elwin Spray have continued to be the liaisons with the scouts.
Use of Our Educational Building
Our large classroom has been used as an ideal space to support weekday programs. Recognizing our limited ability to start programs of our own, we have chosen to rent out the space. In the 1970’s, Head Start used it for one of their Windward Oahu Classrooms. In the 1980’s, Hokulea, Inc. used the space as the site of one of their schools. When Hokulea dissolved their incorporation, the church took this opportunity to move the tent sale merchandise into that room. In 1998, Kamehameha School was looking for additional classroom space and we were, again, looking for better use of this space. Since a new Land Use Ordinance went into effect in 1997, the City and County was now applying new conditions to the operations of a preschool. One of these conditions was having a paved parking lot. Another was having a six-foot high fence along the parking lot boundary and behind the educational building. In 1999, Kamehameha installed the current parking lot, fence, and landscaping as part of the agreement with the church. Mele Ah Ho has been the teacher-in-charge since the classroom opened to children in the community in November, 1999. A playground structure was installed and the old swing set and jungle gym were removed. We thank God for this wonderful relationship. During the week the space is filled with 20 four year olds. Once every year, our sanctuary is filled to overflowing when they have their end- of-the-year celebration.
Currently, the renters in the other rooms of the Education Building include Office of Hope Chapel, Kahalu’u; Office of Light of Promise Ministries; and the Mentoring Program for children whose parents are incarcerated. The church has been deliberate in renting spaces to those organizations that work together to provide care for God’s people. Our rental fees are below the market price. The rental income helps to provide financial stability for our church and, just as importantly, the rentals have opened the doors for partnerships to serve our community more deeply and widely.
Community organizations, such as the Windward Oahu Family Community Education group, the Alcohol Anonymous group, and the Scouts use the social hall and the conference room to hold their meetings, at no charge.
FACE (Faith Action for Community Equity)
Rev. Bill Cunningham
Kahalu’u United Methodist Church has just completed its first year of membership in FACE, which is an island-wide interfaith organization working to improve the the quality of life in our communities. Its members are predominantly Protestant churches, but also include several Catholic churches, a Buddhist congregation, and a labor union. As FACE describes itself, “our solidarity enables us to call to accountability our public institutions and public leaders and authorities. As an organization that speaks for thousands of citizens, we exert our collective power on the systems and structures that are responsible for the creation or continuance of problems and have the power to correct them.”
Over the past 13 years the accomplishments of FACE in improving our communities have been many, in response to needs voiced by its members. This year’s actions, through rallies and prayer vigils, have been in support of hotel workers at Turtle Bay Resort seeking better working conditions, and in support of affordable housing, notably in preserving Kukui Gardens in Honolulu (the state’s largest affordable housing project) for lower income renters. Kukui Gardens is facing the threat of being sold to the highest bidder with the possibility that many families will be displaced in a few years.
FACE activities also include educational and training sessions, as well as inter- faith programs and fellowship.
Through FACE, Kahalu’u United Methodist is able to achieve a level of island- wide community outreach that otherwise would not be possible for us. We support FACE both through the active involvement of some of our members in its activities, and financially through our annual membership fee and special offerings.
Kokokahi Tropical Hunger Mission
Rev. Bill Cunningham
For the past several years, as part of its world outreach, Kahalu’u United Methodist Church has been supportive of the tropical hunger mission of a sister church in Kahalu’u, Kokokahi United Church of Christ. KUMC’s support began as special offerings in response to presentations by the Kokokahi Mission, and now our giving to that project has become a regular item in our budget.
The Kokokahi Tropical Hunger Mission began with its demonstration farm in Kaneohe, under the leadership of its pastor, Olin Pendleton. The vision was to make a dent in hunger in third world communities. Beginning almost 30 years ago, the Mission brought young persons from poor rural areas of Southeast Asia to Kokokahi for hands-on training in low technology agriculture and aquaculture, nutrition, organic farming instead of chemical fertilizers, and introduction to new crops suitable for the tropics. Also included were special classes by some University of Hawaii faculty. In 1978, our pastor, Bob Nakata, as a liaison with the United Methodist Church, was able to facilitate a $3500 grant from our General Board of Global Ministries to help the Mission develop an irrigation system, solar water heater, and a hand-operated machine to make mud/cement blocks for housing.
The Mission’s trainees, generally after one year stays, returned to their home countries with the objective that they would teach their rural communities what they had learned through their own demonstration farms. Now, many years later, some of the former trainees are still dedicated to this task in the southern Philippines and in Sumatra, Indonesia, where demonstration farms, “Kokokahi style,” have been developed (now involving livestock). The Mission has evolved from bringing persons here for training to being supportive of their efforts to train people in their own communities.
Both Kahalu’u UMC and Kokokahi Church are small churches. Through this ecumenical outreach, we are able to help uplift the rural poor thousands of miles across the Pacific.
Reflections of Kahalu’u United Methodist Church
Kahalu’u United Methodist Church continues to be a vital force in building relationships among the diverse groups in the community and in promoting partnerships to address the social justice issues that affect the quality of life in the community. Our Pastor, Bob Nakata, has been a dynamic leader in addressing the social justice issues. Well-grounded in the Social Creed of the United Methodist Church, his voice is recognized in Kahalu’u and other parts of the State as the defender of the people in need and the protector of God’s natural creation, our environment. His passion and insights of the needs of the people and his ability to get the church and other groups to stand up for what is right, have impacted on legislation that address the homeless issues and the ice- abuse issues. He has been working tirelessly with groups like FACE to negotiate for affordable housing and fair wages and benefits for the workers. He has voiced grave concerns about global warming and its impact on the environment and quality of life. Under his leadership as the Director of the Hawaii District Committee on Church and Society the committee has addressed a variety of social justice issues on a broader scale.
In September, 2006, Bob was nominated for the Jefferson Award. He was one of the five winners of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service which honors “ordinary people who do extraordinary things for the community without usual recognition or reward.” Bob is currently recognized as the advocate for the homeless living on streets and at parks and beaches, but it was noted that Bob has fought for a lot of causes that threatened to harm the environment or the people. He led the opposition for H-3 to preserve the rural atmosphere of the Windward side and he was the force behind the Kokua Kalihi Valley late-night basketball league to keep kids from engaging in gang activities. Senator Russell Kokubun, from the Big Island, nominated Bob “because he has been consistent in his support of the people who have the least. Bob does so much for the people who need so much. That’s the way I’ve always known him, and this award is a good way to recognize his work.” (Quotations from Advertiser, September 2, 2006.)
Kahalu’u United Methodist Church is alive and an important part of the Kahalu’u Community because of the insightful, devoted leadership of Pastor Bob Nakata who works tirelessly to address the needs of God’s people and His Creation. His ministry is not an easy one, but as Kent Keith would say “he does it anyway.” The church fully supports his ministry and has grown as a result of being involved in vital issues that made a difference to our own spiritual well-being and the life style of the people in the community.
Sakae Loo, Secretary Administrative Council